EAGLE, Idaho — Sporting a patriotic tie with an eagle on it, Jason Pierce on Thursday gave his first public address as mayor of Eagle.
During his State of the City Address, hosted by the Eagle Chamber of Commerce at the Chateau des Fleurs, Pierce explained his mayoral vision, which includes keeping Eagle business-friendly, expanding its trails system and building a new community center at city hall, following controversy surrounding the city's newly purchased community center at The Landing.
"I know you're wondering, with a new mayor, 'What's in store? What does the future look like for Eagle?'" said Pierce, who defeated incumbent Stan Ridgeway by more than 1,000 votes in the November election. "My biggest goal is for Eagle to continue to be the gem of the Treasure Valley."
Pierce pointed to four goals that he will work toward during his administration. First, he will keep downtown Eagle a walkable and family-friendly place. Second, he will attract more restaurants and shops to Eagle. Third, he will fill empty lots on Eagle Road and State Street with offices, shops and restaurants. Lastly, he will make Eagle more business-friendly.
Pierce said last year Eagle saw $1.3 billion in private sector development, $52 million in new business investment, 66 new businesses and 360 new jobs.
He pointed to several growing Eagle businesses including Intuit, a software company, and PetIQ, a pet wellness and veterinary retail company.
In 2020, Intuit plans to build a second building in Eagle, adjacent to its current building, and add dozens of new jobs, Pierce said.
PetIQ is also expanding its Eagle presence, Pierce said, by building a $20 million, 55,000-square-foot building for its corporate headquarters. PetIQ plans to add nearly 300 jobs in Eagle in the coming years, Pierce said.
To help business growth, Pierce said he hopes to "streamline" the process for city building and design standards. The current standards are "high," Pierce said, which "have made it more challenging for business owners." He said he hopes the city can find ways to streamline the process, without compromising Eagle's historical aesthetic values, so that new buildings don't look out of place.
Pierce made two statements that drew applause from the crowd. First, he said at Eagle Fun Days in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the event, fireworks will be moved to Eagle Island State Park, and the city will be bringing back the Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed. Second, he announced that soon Eagle's trail system will connect to Eagle Island State Park.
Eagle, which has 31 miles of public access trails, saw 15,000 monthly trail users last year, an 11% increase from 2018, Pierce said.
The city is working with county and state agencies to create trail connections through Boise's Dry Creek Ranch subdivision, creating access to Avimor and Hidden Springs, Pierce said. Additionally, the city has been granted easements, at no cost, that will allow trails to be built to Eagle Island State Park, he said.
"One day soon you will be able to travel from Lucky Peak State Park in the east to Eagle Island State Park in the west without ever leaving … a trail," Pierce said.
Pierce briefly mentioned The Landing, which the city, under Ridgeway, purchased last year for about $1.1 million. The city took on $767,000 of debt in the deal, without seeking Eagle residents' approval. That deal has drawn the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Eagle is complying with FBI subpoenas related to the purchase of The Landing, Pierce said.
Pierce said Thursday there has been "a lot of talk about The Landing community center" and he hopes to find "long-term solutions" for Eagle residents' community center uses.
"I just want to make it clear: We need a community center," he said. "I want to have a community center that will work for Eagle residents for the next 40 years, not the next five to 10."
Pierce said he hopes to expand Eagle City Hall, to create a permanent community center as well as meeting space and a "comfortable" space for city employees. The city could build a new community center on the city hall campus for about the same amount of money it has budgeted for The Landing, Pierce said.
Pierce said he also hopes to relocate St. Matthew's Catholic Church, the planned new home of the Eagle Museum of History and Preservation, to city hall property.
Ryan Suppe is the Meridian reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-465-8119. Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.
More from our partners at the Idaho Press: State, tribal officials aim to learn more about missing and murdered indigenous Idahoans
Watch more 'Growing Idaho':
See the latest growth and development news in our YouTube playlist: