Comprehensive Plan: Chapter 4
“Quality of life” represents the social well-being of individuals in a community; “livability” is a term used to express the overall relationship between community members and the satisfaction they derive from their surroundings. Quality of life and livability factors can be both public service-related and derived from natural and constructed open space and amenities. Elements such as security, parks, trails, recreation, and natural resources contribute to the overall livability of an area. Quality of life factors have a direct connection to citizens’ health, happiness, and prosperity.
To enhance the Livable Community, the Plan encourages stewardship of natural features that define the community, such as open spaces and waterways. The Plan provides a setting for a safe and resilient community through crime prevention, sustainability, and emergency services. The community’s quality of life will be enhanced by the diversification and expansion of the renowned comprehensive parks and recreation system. The Plan promotes the acquisition and development of land, funding for maintenance and renovations, developing new parks, and the creation of new programs. This park system will be connected by new pathways, linking schools, parks, and commercial areas.
Parks and Pathways
The Parks and Pathways element reflects the City’s dedication to providing a comprehensive parks and recreation system that contributes to the quality of life in Meridian and surrounding areas. As part of this section, the policy direction outlined in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and Pathways Master Plan are summarized.
The City of Meridian Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for maintaining public open spaces and providing a quality system of parks and recreation facilities with leisure opportunities for all people in the community. The Department is also responsible for the implementation of the Pathway Master Plan, including some development and maintenance of priority pathways and key connections. The system as a whole is stronger and more sustainable when responsibility of development and maintenance of parks and pathways is shared between the City, developers, and homeowner associations.
This system consists of recreation and community facilities, pathways, and hundreds of acres of parkland. Parks and Recreation offers and manages a variety of recreational programs, adult sports leagues, and special events. Additionally, staff handles shelter/field reservations and assists in the issuance of temporary use permits.
The continued provision of high quality, year-round park and recreation facilities and activities requires the acquisition and development of land, funding for maintenance and renovations, and programming of activities. Developing new parks and expanding the existing park system with cutting-edge features like outdoor exercise equipment, pickleball courts, dog parks, destination playgrounds, and year-round programs is vital to keeping up with demand from growth.
The City also seeks to continue expanding its pathway system by coordinating new projects with regional partners, and providing safe, integrated pathways linking popular destinations such as schools and parks to neighborhood centers. Therefore, the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and Pathways Master Plan should be used when evaluating proposed development for consistency with the City’s plans. Refer to Chapter 6 for additional policies related to pathways, transportation, and connectivity.
The Stewardship element discusses the City’s ongoing commitment and obligation to be good stewards of the public trust. As part of this section, the natural and built environment, sustainability, hazardous areas, and historic resources are covered.
Productive agricultural soils, open space, vegetation, air, water, and energy are all valuable resources that the residents of Meridian enjoy and want to preserve. Beyond the environmental and health benefits realized from preserving the natural resources, preservation can offer exciting recreational opportunities, provide for pedestrian travel ways, and offer a simple break from the standard suburban affair. As growth continues however, increased pressures are placed on natural resources. While development is expected within the Area of City Impact, a maze of monotonous expansion is not desired, either. It is essential to find a balance that protects and preserves Meridian’s natural resources, agricultural heritage, and open spaces, while supporting the need for new development and sustainable provision of services.
Growth projected for Meridian emphasizes the need for attention to Meridian’s character, specifically its natural and historic resources. Meridian has seen much of its natural resources change over the years from agricultural open spaces to a growing city. Providing and protecting unique sites and resources will assure the quality of life that the residents have come to know and expect.
The City of Meridian is committed to creating balanced solutions; solutions that deliver services at levels citizens expect in an environmentally and socially responsible way; and ensuring the best economic choice in the long term. These fundamentals should balance the needs of protecting and enhancing the economy and preserving the natural and built environment today and for future generations.
The Public Safety element considers the City’s role and responsibility to maintain the public safety and welfare for Meridian residents. As part of this section, the function of the Police and Fire Departments, as well as the City’s approach to hazard preparedness and mitigation are discussed.
Fortunately, very few natural hazards exist within the City of Meridian and its Area of City Impact. However, there exists man-made hazards that may require both police and fire response. As more development occurs, responses to time sensitive emergencies and hazardous areas will likely increase due to residential build out, increased traffic congestion, growth of commercial and/or industrial business, and storage of hazardous chemicals associated with certain businesses. While federal regulations require some preventative measures with hazardous uses, as development increases so will the potential for spills, accidents, and fires. The City coordinates with Ada County Emergency Management on natural hazard disaster preparedness, response, and mitigation, and recovery, and is a participant in the Ada County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
With the rapid rate of growth, one would expect an increase in the number of crimes and vehicle collisions occurring in Meridian. The City takes great pride in the crime rate when compared to the dramatic increase in population. The rate of criminal offenses has remained lower than the national and state averages for several years. Going forward, continued coordination with the Fire and Police Departments is vital to ensure adequate services and resources are available for proposed annexation and development requests.
The Meridian Fire Department has been effectively serving the Meridian area since 1908, and is now a full-time all-hazards response department servicing both the City of Meridian and the Meridian Rural Fire District. Services provided by the department include fire suppression, advanced life support emergency medical service, technical rescue, community risk reduction, fire prevention education, fire and life safety inspections, and plans’ review for new developments and construction.
As the rate of growth increases, so too will the rate of requests for service from the community. The Meridian Fire and Police Departments’ will continue to be an important asset in development review and land use decisions, as they ensure that there is adequate access, service, and mitigation measures in place.
Making best use of the Fire and Police Departments’ obvious expertise in matters of safety is important in the planning and design of new facilities, services, and contingency/hazard response plans.