Imagine a park with an elementary school, a YMCA, a library, an innovative medical center and a large farmhouse at its edges.
Nobody in Meridian was thinking such things four years ago.
Then David Turnbull met Marti Hill at Hill’s farmhouse and surrounding farm land at the southern edge of Meridian at the end of 2013.
Turnbull, CEO of the Boise development firm Brighton Corp., had just bought 160 acres that border the farmland the Hill family has owned since 1891. Hill and Dixie Cook had built a large farm house right in the center of their acreage in 2006.
“I just wanted to introduce myself to Marti,” Turnbull recalled. “I think I knew he wanted to do a park.”
Ever since about 2004, Hill and Cook had talked about some day donating 15 acres to the city of Meridian to build a park. It was not a secret, but Hill was still surprised that Turnbull knew about his park dream.
“He said, ‘I hear you want to put in a park.’ He said, ‘How serious are you?’” Hill said. “I said, ‘You can break ground tomorrow.’”
What Hill and Cook did not know was Turnbull then went to talk with developer Winston Moore, Treasure Valley Family YMCA executives Scott Curtis and Jim Everett (who has since retired as CEO), and the West Ada School District. Turnbull was thinking of building an elementary school on his land right next to the site he would propose for a YMCA on Hill’s adjacent “park” land. Turnbull became co-chair of the YMCA’s fundraising campaign for Meridian.
Turnbull’s vision came to be known as The Hill.
“He comes back the following May (2014),” Hill said. “He says, ‘What about a YMCA? Can we have a meeting if I bring the CEO?’”
Hill and Cook were only thinking of a park to serve as family legacy. A YMCA caught them off guard. “We’re not going to say yes, we’re not going to say no,” was where Hill and Cook stood at the time.
“Within 13 days he brought to see us a large group of high horsepower people from St. Luke’s, the Y, Kristin Armstrong, the mayor, Albertsons. The thing that got Dixie and I excited about it was they were all excited about it. The enthusiasm was contagious.”
The collaborative Hillsdale Park project was announced in November 2014.
Hill’s donation remained 15 acres but now only 10 acres will become Meridian’s Hillsdale Park, spread out directly in front of Hill and Cook’s house. The city broke ground in early April with an ambition to have at least the portion nearest Hillsdale Elementary School open for the next school year.
The YMCA in October broke ground on a 58,491-square-foot full-service center for Meridian to replace its more limited Meridian Homecourt fitness center. West Ada County School District’s Hillsdale Elementary school opened in September 2016, the first manifestation of Turnbull and Hill’s evolving conversation. Turnbull’s 125-to-140-home Century Farm development involved a school site and Turnbull proposed placing the school at the edge of Hill’s future park.
The YMCA will also include an 8,000-square-foot collaboration with St. Luke’s Health System, which will incorporate a lifestyle medicine center at the Y that will be jointly operated by St. Luke’s and the YMCA.
A Meridian Library branch will likely also become part of this collaborative complex aka The Hill.
“What is it creating?” Turnbull pondered. “A community center.”
Just over 2,000 people lived in Meridian when Hill graduated from high school, and Meridian was miles away from the Hill acreage. Hill farmed the land until retiring in 2014. Meanwhile, Meridian grew to become the second biggest city in Idaho. Its city limits finally encompassed Turnbull’s property in 2014 and Hill’s in 2015.
“You have to expect change,” Hill said.
The Hill inspired community collaboration in south Meridian
Meridian bills The Hill as a collaborative complex, one that will transform 15 acres of donated farm land into a multi-facility center for the new neighborhoods sprouting at the southern edge of the city.
What makes The Hill collaborative is how intertwined the independent entities have been since the original concept surfaced three years ago.
The focal point is the new Hillsdale Park that started construction in early April, a fulfillment of the dream that Marti Hill, the land’s third-generation owner, has had for a dozen years.
From the outset, the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department, West Ada School District, Treasure Valley Family YMCA, St. Luke’s Health System and Meridian Library saw ways to set aside traditional boundaries to create The Hill.
The YMCA and Hillsdale Elementary School parking lots will double for parking at Hillsdale Park.
Portions of the park will serve as the school’s playground. The YMCA will provide its gym for student use during school hours. St. Luke’s lifestyle fitness center within the YMCA will assist in Hillsdale student health needs.
The St. Luke’s lifestyle fitness center in its entirety is a collaboration. St. Luke’s will own 8,000 square feet within the 58,491-square-foot YMCA, but the center will be jointly operated by St. Luke’s and the YMCA.
“We sat in this room as a group of stakeholders and envisioned what’s possible,” Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd said at the April 7 groundbreaking for Hillsdale Park. “I think it’s a model other communities can follow on how to leverage each other’s efforts to bring something to the community that can be more than the individual parts.”
A full-service YMCA at Eagle and Amity
Meridian has grown to the second largest city in Idaho without a full-service YMCA health and recreation center such as those in Boise and Caldwell.
Meridian has had the YMCA Homecourt fitness center since 2008 with four indoor basketball courts but no lobby, community center or youth activity center. The West Family YMCA in Boise has easy access from Meridian, the northeastern side of town, at any rate.
The Treasure Valley Family YMCA has worked for more than a decade to build a full-service YMCA for Meridian’s south side. A site next to Mountain View High School was considered in 2006, but then the economy faltered. Subsequently, developer David Turnbull led the YMCA to build its full-service South Meridian Family YMCA at Amity and Eagle roads, next to the proposed Hillsdale Park and the Hillsdale Elementary School.
The YMCA in 2016 sold the Homecourt building to Meridian for $4 million with the full sum dedicated to the $18.5 million YMCA now under construction at The Hill, a collaboration at Eagle and Amity involving the YMCA, Meridian Parks and Recreation, St. Luke’s Health System and West Ada School District.
The YMCA broke ground on Oct. 25 and started vertical construction in January with YMCA CEO David Duro shooting for an opening no later than March 2018. The city broke ground in early April on a 10-acre Hillsdale Park adjacent to the YMCA site and Hillsdale Elementary School, which opened in September.
The 58,491-square-foot YMCA facility includes youth development centers, fitness areas, group exercise studios, family locker rooms, community gathering space, a family adventure zone, gyms, classrooms, and a teaching kitchen.
Hummel Architects was the architect. The Russell Corp. of Meridian is the general contractor.
Within the YMCA, St. Luke’s owns 8,000 square feet, which will serve as a lifestyle medicine center jointly operated by St. Luke’s and the YMCA. It will include classrooms, a teaching kitchen, consultation rooms, and a transitional gym, said St. Luke’s spokeswoman Anita Kissée.
The $18.5 million capital campaign for the South Meridian Family YMCA launched the $500,000 community campaign segment April 13. That includes a $500,000 match from David and Kristin Turnbull. Developer David Turnbull inspired the YMCA and farm owners Marti Hill and Dixie Cook to add a YMCA to Hill’s vision to turn his farm into a park.
The South Meridian Family YMCA will be a full-service facility – except for the missing swimming pool, planned for the future. A Meridian Library branch at The Hill is still in the conceptual stage. David Turnbull has his sights set on both.
Meridian Library seeks a presence in south MeridianMeridian leases 4,500 square feet for library space on Overland Road and is seeking space for a dedicated branch for the south side of town.
A proposed branch for the south side was sidetracked by the failure of a $12 million bond in November 2016 to building two library branches.
Now Library Director Gretchen Caserotti is discussing fitting a library into The Hill.
“We are committed to the partnership,” Caserotti said. “By the end of the year, we will have made some decisions on direction.”
The library presence at The Hill might not revolve around stacks of books.
“We have non-traditional collections, “Caserotti said. “We help you find information.”
Hillsdale Park binds everything together at The Hill
The 10-acre Hillsdale Park at Amity and Eagle roads will replace farmland that has rested in the Hill family since 1891.
Third-generation farmer Marti Hill tended milk cows on the acreage until 2001 and then farmed hay, corn, wheat and pinto beans until retiring in 2014.
The partners broke ground on the park in early April. Some of the park is expected to open in August, in time for the second school year at the adjoining Hillsdale Elementary School. Two multi-use sports fields should be ready in spring 2018.
Russell Corp. is the construction manager/general contractor. Jensen Belts is the landscape architect. INSIGHT architects is the architect for park structures.
The $1.7 million Hillsdale Park is funded with park impact fees. Meridian has 13 regional, community or neighborhood parks. Hillsdale will be the fourth community park, Siddoway said.
The Hill is a public-private collaboration that is turning 15 acres of Hill and Cook farmland into a collaborative community complex.
Meridian Parks & Recreation District
West Ada School District
Treasure Valley Family YMCA, Brighton Corp.
Meridian Library District
Marti Hill and Dixie Cook
10-acre Hillsdale Park
Hillsdale Elementary School
South Meridian Family YMCA
St. Luke’s Lifestyle Medicine Center
Meridian Library branch