Construction is set to begin this spring on what will be Meridian’s largest park.

Meridian City Council approved bids for the first phase of construction on the 77-acre south Meridian regional park at its Jan. 9 meeting. The new park, which hasn’t been named yet, will be on the south side of Lake Hazel Road between Locust Grove and Eagle Road.

The first phase of construction will include 25.7 acres of the park, according to Steve Siddoway, Meridian Parks and Recreation director.

The first phase is expected to be complete and open to the public in the summer of 2019.

That includes a playground, picnic shelter, splash pad, two softball fields, a stage, a restroom and a concessions building and parking for more than 400 cars between a parking lot and gravel overflow parking area, according to Siddoway.

The full build-out of the 77 acres will take years, Siddoway said, similar to the city’s other large parks.

For comparison, Settlers Park took 12 years to fully develop.

The goal of the new park is to bring a regional park to south Meridian, similar to the city’s two other regional parks, Kleiner and Settlers.

“South Meridian as a group has wanted a signature park of their own like Kleiner and Settlers in north Meridian,” Siddoway said.

The 58-acre Settlers Park is at the corner of Ustick Road and Meridian Road and Kleiner Park, which is also about 58 acres, is behind The Village at Meridian shopping center.

But it’s important to the city for the new park, and all of the city’s parks, to have unique features and a theme.

“Something that has become important to us over the last few years is making sure that our parks are not cookiecutter, but that they have unique theming and identities,” Siddoway said.

The theme of this new park is discovery. It will have what Siddoway called learning landscapes around the park that incorporate science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The idea is that children can learn while they play.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission planned a climbing wall in the shape of Idaho and a sand and water play feature for the park for phase one.

A formal name for the new park hasn’t been announced yet, but the commission is getting close, Siddoway said.

At the Jan. 9 Council meeting, parks superintendent Mike Barton said the commission was leaning toward Exploration Park for the name as a nod to the discovery and learning theme.

The city budgeted $6.75 million for the first phase of the south Meridian park. That cost is being covered by a combination of impact fees, which are paid by developers when new houses are built in Meridian, and by the city’s general fund.

City Council approved a total of nearly $3.9 million in bids Jan. 9. That includes what will make up the backbone of the park, Barton said, including bringing in utilities and landscaping.

Future contracts will still need to be awarded for the playground equipment, splash pad and construction management among other things, which are part of that $6.75 million total budget.

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