by Mayor Tammy

Each year I host a Listening Tour with community members from across our city. People from all walks of life are invited to attend - and from all parts of our community - into my home to have a conversation about Meridian. The group meetings are set by geographical areas with the goal of getting a pulse on our City from those who live and work here. These conversations help us identify things we are doing well, and ways we can improve.

We had a great group of diverse individuals who participated this summer. We had parents, grandparents, children, business owners, employees, students and retirees. Some were new to Meridian; others have been here for years. They all brought unique perspectives to the conversation as we had a refugee, commuters who bike to work, some who are struggling to find jobs, military veterans, a widowed woman who appreciates the safety of our community, a college student and more. I enjoyed meeting each of them and listening to their thoughts about Meridian.

One of the questions we ask is what are we doing well in Meridian? I heard our parks are a big hit! People appreciate the safety of our community – our responsive police and fire departments – and the cleanliness of our city. They also tell me The Village at Meridian is a favorite place for entertainment, but also enjoy seeing more dining and entertainment options in our downtown. Affordability is also a bright spot! My favorite quote I hear often is that we have “big city amenities with a small town feel”. I agree and we want to keep it that way.

When it comes to things we can improve on, the same topics seem to pop up with each group no matter where people live: Schools and Roads. I want to assure you that we hear this feedback and we pass it along to the agencies who oversee these elements in our community. People love our school district, but they are concerned about the inequities in funding from the State and options on how to pay for needed additional schools. With roads, they wanted to know about coordination with the Ada County Highway District - how we communicate and work with them to highlight needed improvements and how we work together in community planning. Along those lines, tour attendees said they would like to see more attention paid to the needs of bicyclists, joggers and walkers. This is something we are working on as we expand our Parks and Recreation master plan for pathways over the next decade - with a focus on connecting sidewalks throughout the community.

I really appreciated the discussion on our downtown – people were quick to point out that they liked the façade improvements, banners and aesthetic improvements; but would like to see more outdoor dining opportunities. I also received great feedback on the new Youth Farmer’s Market – those who have attended say it is a great addition to our City! People expressed a desire to see expanded events and activities in downtown such as a music or concert venue. All of these comments are near and dear to my heart and I’m so excited to see many people from the community are already working to make these dreams a reality.

Specific areas within our community had their own area of focus as well. North Meridian would like to see more commercial businesses and improvements to Chinden – validating and building on efforts by a task force I created last summer with the goal of reducing congestion, improving safety and creating economic opportunity along Chinden. One frequent question that was received was ‘when are we going to get a new Costco?’ At the time of this writing, the City has not received an application so there is nothing to confirm at this point.

In South Meridian, people wanted to know about what infrastructure is expected in this area and when. Of course many were aware of the South Meridian project that includes a YMCA, city park and other partnerships - set to open in 2017. But those at our meetings wanted to talk about sidewalks, pathways, and road improvements in the area as well. We plan to hold a Town Hall at the new Hillsdale Elementary on Wednesday, August, 31 at 6:30pm. If you live in South Meridian I would encourage you to come and talk about this area of town. As well, participate in a ‘BE THE MAP’ exercise and show us what priorities are important to you for sidewalks, pathways, road/intersection improvements and more.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s listening tours. I appreciated your time, comments, and the opportunity to hear what you think about Meridian. Your voice matters and we care what the people in our community think. Working together we will continue to be the best place to live in America.

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