State of the City highlights economic growth By TORRIE COPE email@example.com Tori Feb 7, 2018 (…) Facebook Twitter Email Mayor Tammy de Weerd delivered her 15th State of the City address Feb. 7, 2018 at Meridian Middle School. Torrie Cope/MP Facebook Twitter Email Print Save Roaring Springs and Wahooz plan to expand, and residential units are in the works for The Village at Meridian.Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd made these announcements and highlighted the city's economic achievements in her 15th State of the City address Wednesday.The theme of the mayor's speech was “A Rising Star.” De Weerd gave updates on the city's progress in five of its strategic focus areas. ECONOMIC GROWTHMeridian added more than 2,800 jobs last year, which was led by growth in health care, De Weerd said.The value of commercial building increased nearly 50 percent in 2017, she said.Brighton Corporation will break ground in March on a new four-story office building at Ten Mile Crossing, which is at Ten Mile Road and Interstate 84, that will be the company's headquarters, De Weerd said.The new building will join the AmeriBen headquarters, which opened last summer, and another five-story building slated to open this year that will house Paylocity and Horrocks Engineers.Roaring Springs and Wahooz have a planned $6.1 million expansion this year. The kiddie pool at Roaring Springs will be remodeled with new slides and attractions, and a new event center will be added to Wahooz.The Village at Meridian plans to add a new residential component that will be for adults age 55 and above. The four-story residential property will overlook Kleiner Park. According to the city's annual report, The Village also has plans in the near future to expand out to Eagle Road. The shopping center is 90 percent occupied now.In downtown Meridian, the city lost a couple of businesses but also gained a few new ones last year. De Weerd said there is energy downtown.Meridian had a total of $142.7 million in new commercial value in 2017 and $475.3 million in new residential value, according to the annual report.Residential permits were up 29 percent in 2017 and commercial building permits were up 36 percent, De Weerd said.NEW COMPREHENSIVE PLANThe city will begin the 18-month process of developing a new comprehensive plan, which is a long-term plan that guides growth and development in Meridian.The current plan was written in 2002, when the city had a much lower population.Meridian’s area of impact spans 66 square miles, but only half of that has been developed, De Weerd said.“We have a real opportunity to plan the Meridian of tomorrow,” she said.The process will include heavy public involvement.THE HILL TO BE COMPLETE IN MAYThe new South Meridian YMCA, Hillsdale Park and St. Luke's clinic are set to open with a large celebration on May 25. The Meridian Library District plans to open its new "tiny" library branch for children in a repurposed shipping container in June, De Weerd said.They are all components of a partnership called The Hill, which is on Amity Road near the Eagle Road intersection.CITY TRANSPARENCYDe Weerd talked about ways the city has worked to better communicate with residents and increase transparency. That city now streams all of its meetings live, including commission meetings, and has streamlined the process for public record requests, added public noticing on the social media site NextDoor and created a new budget site.RESIDENTS TO NAME NEW PARKMeridian residents will have the opportunity to name the future 77-acre south Meridian regional park, De Weerd announced.Work is expected to begin on the park, which on Lake Hazel Road near Locust Grove, this spring. It will take years to reach full build-out.MAYOR URGES SUPPORT FOR SCHOOL LEVY, BONDThe West Ada School District is asking voters to approve a $95 million bond and a supplemental levy on March 13.The bond would fund a new high school and elementary school and remodel and expand some existing schools.“Idaho, please invest in your kids,” De Weerd said, in urging support for the bond and levy.De Weerd also said she wants to see a legislative solution for funding new school buildings instead of just relying on property tax bonds.MERIDIAN CHAMBER TAKING THE LEAD ON AUDITORIUM DISTRICTThe mayor also announced the Meridian Chamber of Commerce is taking the lead on exploring a possible auditorium district in Meridian that would be paid for by hotel bed taxes.“I hope you will support them as they move forward to create a Meridian auditorium district this year,” De Weerd said. 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