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Idaho Falls on a Trajectory for Growth

By Rebecca Casper, Post Register

Recognized as one of America’s best places to live by Money Magazine, the Idaho Falls we have today is a thriving, shining example of our cherished old-time values mixed with exciting potential for future growth.

The progress we’ve made over the past decade is remarkable when you look at it.

On paper, Idaho Falls’ growth has been healthy, and it has established a trajectory for future growth. Something we will hear more and more about in the coming months as we move into 2021. But when we shift our focus to community improvements instead of just growth, the transformation of our community is practically stunning.

The Idaho Falls Fiber project has to be one of the most innovative, important projects we’ve ever undertaken in the city. High-speed connectivity for all residents changes lives, improves commerce, productivity. Connectivity also pacts the way Idaho Falls is seen in Idaho and across the country as places like INL, the Compressed Air Energy Storage facility, cybersecurity and other high-tech development and resources locate to our city.

Infrastructure-wise, Idaho Falls is leading the way with miles of newly paved or improved streets, improvements in our water and wastewater service, sanitation, snow removal and street maintenance systems. New roundabouts, H.A.W.K. crossing systems, and Connecting Our Communities pathways and trails systems all help improve traffic flow and safety.

The city’s arts and entertainment scene has seen an incredible increase in opportunities, with improvements to the Museum of Idaho, the historic Civic Center for the Performing Arts, the addition of the Maeck Education Center, the remodeling of ARTI’s theater space, the grand opening of the ARTitorium and other improvements at the Idaho Falls Zoo, along with many new parks, trails and outdoor amenities.

The city’s Public Safety Sector came into the 21st century with decades of demonstrated need. Yet it was in 2015 that the Idaho Falls city government began to address it, as they began planning for a new fire station and department headquarters that opened in 2017. In 2019 the City Council began taking steps to improve police infrastructure with more to come. In 2021 we expect to break ground on the city’s first-ever law enforcement building.

We’ve seen incredible reinvestment in our Historic Downtown with the transformation of Broadway and Memorial, bridge walkway improvements and revitalization of the much-loved River Walk trail system. The beautification of downtown with its lovely planters, trees and improved, accessible sidewalks has made a huge positive difference. We’ve brought the old Bonneville back to life and have made incredible behind-the-scenes strides to transform south downtown, Northgate Mile, 1st Street and other historic parts of our city.

Developments like Snake River Landing, Taylor’s Crossing, Jackson Hole Junction, Costco and so many others have and will continue to bring new and exciting jobs and opportunities to our city.

We have invested millions of dollars in our Idaho Falls Regional Airport to upgrade the baggage claim, terminals and availability of flights. The addition of three new gates will further transform our ability to serve as the premiere air service destination for the region.

Going forward, we are updating our comprehensive plan to provide guidance for managing community goals and priorities while managing future growth. We have created the IDAHome committee to examine and help plan for new housing opportunities, and are engaging in strategic planning efforts to set priorities and direction for our future. We are also planning carefully for the many public and private projects and associated new construction coming in the face of new nuclear opportunities attracted by the INL site.

Mayors are by nature inclined to look to the future. Tasked with navigating and sometimes with steering, the goal is to get the community down the road successfully. But once in a while, it can’t hurt to take a look in that review mirror and enjoy the view. It is pretty great.