by Mayor Simison
As spring starts to arrive and our community continues to evolve, one of the City’s most consistently admired assets is our parks and recreation system. We want our open spaces to be easily accessible and near our residents. We are always looking to bring innovation to the design of our parks while ensuring we provide diverse recreational opportunities. All of this happens with a great team at Meridian Parks and Recreation and a clear plan for the future.
Meridian Parks and Recreation has been working the last several months to update its Master Plan, the blueprint which will guide Meridian Parks and Recreation into the future. To date, this process has included a series of focus group meetings, a level of service analysis, an inventory of our existing park amenities and programs, and a public opinion survey. Overall, the findings have been very positive, with 86% of survey participants indicating they were very satisfied or satisfied with the current quality of our City parks and facilities. Many specific items received high ratings, including staff and leadership, the diversity of our programs and events, the convenient locations of our parks and pathways, and our willingness to work with community partners to provide engaging experiences for the public.
Through this process, we also identified some priorities for improvement. Respondents feel strongly that pathways and trails are the top priority to be added, expanded, or improved in Meridian. Along with pathways, respondents ranked shade structures and improved park amenities, aquatics facilities, community centers, and dog parks as additional important needs. A desire for more pickleball courts was also quite evident. Our Parks and Recreation Department is currently assimilating the information we gathered and developing short- and long-term visions of the future, with action plans for each of our key focus areas. This master planning process is expected to be completed in the coming months, and you can learn more about it HERE.
Keeping the survey results in mind, the City’s next big park expansion is underway with phase two of Discovery Park in south Meridian. This park is located along Lake Hazel Road between Eagle and Locust Grove Roads. Discovery Park’s phase two amenities will include tennis and pickleball courts, bocce ball courts, a basketball court, a bike park and pump track, a sand volleyball court, illuminated ball fields, community garden, picnic shelters, paved walking paths, and additional parking. Construction will last a couple of years and will break ground this spring. In addition, we have partnered with Brighton to enhance the park’s accessibility through pathway and roadway improvements.
In other Parks news, it has been nearly a year and a half since the City of Meridian assumed responsibility for the management and operations of Lakeview Golf Club – Meridian’s community golf course. During that time, we’ve worked hard to evaluate the condition of the course, gather input from those who utilize the club or own homes surrounding it and develop a master plan with strategies for its future success. Some of the priority projects for Lakeview Golf Club have already been accomplished. These include the replacement of the club’s aging golf cart fleet, a rebuild of the wooden bridge at hole #4, hiring a new golf course superintendent, an inventory of the property’s 700+ trees, and the creation of the Golf Ambassadors volunteer program. Other projects which will enhance the course’s appearance and playability are in the works this year. These include the reshaping of several tee boxes, the replacement of the irrigation system and the concrete cart paths, and the creation of a new irrigation well.
This spring another transition involving our Parks Department is taking place. The City of Meridian has begun overseeing the daily operations and maintenance of the Meridian Pool located in Storey Park. This community asset has been owned and operated by the Western Ada Recreation District (WARD), which is a separate entity from the City of Meridian. As you can imagine, this is a busy time of year for pool operators with our Recreation staff working hard to hire lifeguards, prepare for swimming lesson sign-ups, and learn all they can about managing a safe, fun, and vibrant outdoor community pool. We look forward to opening the pool this summer and working with WARD to ensure this facility continues to be a place for the community to recreate.
Finally, we have our Unplug and Be Outside week-long series of free activities in arts, sports, and recreation coming this spring. Our parks and recreation programs are premier, and I think you will find that there is something for everyone. I find great value in unplugging and getting outside, trying a new activity, and embracing the change in seasons. Stay connected with everything happening in Meridian by subscribing to our CityNews.
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