Early in 2016, shortly after the holiday break, school kids in Boise's Vista neighborhood will be bringing home a report card to their parents—but it won't contain grades. It's a report card from the city of Boise to Vista residents on what the city has accomplished in its Energize Our Neighborhoods initiative and, more important, what's still to come.
"We'll be sending them home with every student from Hawthorne and Whitney elementary schools and South Junior High," said Melinda McGoldrick, Boise's new Energize Our Neighborhoods coordinator.
Editor's note: You can read the full report online by clicking here.
Vista neighbors packed the community center at Whitney Elementary in June 2014 to first hear about the new initiative, which city officials promised would have "huge potential." In short order, neighbors identified eight focus areas that need greater attention, including children and youth, economic development, housing, public safety, sustainability and transportation.
"But change needs to be resident-driven," said McGoldrick.
The highest-profile change, to date, in Vista came in the form of free pre-kindergarten sessions at Hawthorne and Whitney elementary schools. In kicking off the first day of a unique partnership with the Boise Independent School District, Mayor Dave Bieter called it a "watershed day for our city and maybe our state."
Other changes to the Vista neighborhood haven't gotten much of media attention, yet are still significant to some residents: new sidewalks and stop signs.
"They're smaller in scale, but they're a big deal to the neighborhood," said McGoldrick, adding the transportation and public safety committees have worked with the Ada County Highway District to install stop signs and sidewalks to areas throughout the neighborhood..
In 2016, the city also intends to embark on a first-of-its kind partnership with the Treasure Valley YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs to expand youth activities at neighborhood schools. It's something McGoldrick said would be "pretty monumental."
"We'll be pretty busy in the coming year," she added. "Yes, it's definitely a process. But change isn't impossible."