Fingers Crossed For 4th of July: Boise Mayor “Hopes To Have Good News” For Summer Celebrations
On a daily basis, Idaho public health officials release a new set of COVID-19 data: vaccinations, new cases, 7-day averages, and much more. And officials in the City of Boise pore over those numbers as much as anyone.
“What we’re looking at is being able to progress through the summer,” said Boise Mayor Lauren McLean. When asked about the possibility that, if COVID data improves, the city might begin planning a 4th of July celebration in a couple of months, the mayor added that it’s all about everyone “doing the right thing.”
“We are looking at what we can do,” said McLean. “ We’ve got a whole bunch of fireworks that we had to store last year; and we hope to have good news soon.”
McLean visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk what it would take for Boise to take the next positive step in its Public Health Order. And while this month is the so-called “May in Motion,” the mayor also said it’s an ideal opportunity to start thinking big about more transit options.
“The more people that get in there and get their vaccinations, the better off we all are.”
Read the full transcript below:
GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Any opportunity to have a conversation with Boise Mayor Lauren McLean is time well spent. So, let's see how much ground we can cover. Mayor McLean, good morning.
LAUREN MCLEAN: Well, good morning. Happy Monday to you, George.
PRENTICE: Thanks so very much. Up first, let's talk about where we are with the city's Public Health Order right now. Among other things, we are still wearing face coverings in indoor public places. What do you think is the next step forward… the next positive step? And what might it take to get there?
MCLEAN: Sure, that's a great question and one that so many people, including ourselves, talk about often. First off, it's so important to celebrate the progress we've made. Masks are optional outside now to protect businesses and their employees and to make sure we can remain open for requiring them inside for the moment. What we're looking at is being able to progress through the summer, maintain the progress that we've made, and lift those restrictions and celebrate it when one is able to happen. And so shortly, we’ll be at that point where everybody… and this is my vaccination plug… where everybody will have the chance to get the vaccine. And that's what we're really looking for. And, of course, we’re looking to see that numbers remain level, the way they have, so that in protecting people and businesses we’re able to lift those restrictions.
PRENTICE: And we're at a pretty critical moment in that the FDA could give approval for vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds… to include them. It's a pretty big deal.
MCLEAN: It is a big deal. We've had so many constituents asking if we knew when this would happen, because there are so many parents in this community that want to make sure that their kiddos are vaccinated before heading back to school in the fall. And then, of course, we recognize the importance of being vaccinated - not only to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us. And it opens up the opportunities for many folks who have been so vigilant in this community… to then be able to enjoy seeing more of their family… to having those special summer reunions we all just are so excited to have. And the more people that get in there and get their vaccinations, the better off we all are. And this is a big step that many people look forward to.
PRENTICE: Is there any early planning or even initial thoughts on the possibility of a public Fourth of July celebration for the city? And I know it’s May, but I can't help but ask.
MCLEAN: Well, it's May. It was chilly this weekend, but hot last week. And so, we're all thinking about summer. So, of course, that's on our mind. And George, as I said last year, the Fourth of July is an incredibly important holiday for this community, but of course, for our nation. In the last year, we've seen, I would say, how important it is to protect and celebrate our democracy. And it becomes even more important this year than it was even last year when thinking about the Fourth of July, we all have our own ways of celebrating. But I'll say this: We are looking at what we can do. We've got a whole bunch of fireworks that we had to store last year; and we hope to have good news soon. So please, everyone, keep at those safe-and-healthy events, and keep at the steps that you've taken to protect your families and coworkers. And we are going to have a great, fun summer.
PRENTICE: May…May In Motion is an annual opportunity to amplify a conversation about smarter commuting. So, here's my question: It's a bit fantastical, but if you were the Transportation Czar, and had the authority to make one big change to how we move around Boise…. and again, we're talking about change… what would you change?
MCLEAN: That's a great question. And it's one that we have to ask ourselves, because we do have to think fantastically, especially at this moment when we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to potentially drive some infrastructure investments and May In Motion transportation. People have wanted to see forever in this valleyL bus, rapid transit or a system out State Street. But because it's more than that, I'm going to try to weave together how I can make as the Secretary of Transportation. And that would be finishing out the State Street bus/rapid transit vision so we can connect to Middleton. And then I would creatively find a connection to that rail line so that we could also, in the same ask of the Transportation Secretary, or wave the wand and rebuild a rail connection between Boise and Caldwell. I was out in Caldwell a couple of weeks ago with the mayor, Mayor Nancolas, and we heard those trains. I saw the great train station, and we have Boiseans working in Caldwell and people from Caldwell working in Boise; and the same way along the State Street corridor, that we have people moving back and forth between Boise and Middleton and everywhere in-between. So, making that vision of this valley that's been held for so long a reality, and it would be my ultimate wish from a transportation perspective.
Prentice: Is it your sense that the City's working relationship with ACHD is a bit better?
MCLEAN: Well, I only know what the relationship that I have working with ACHD, and I'll say this: I really appreciate the partnership that we've established. We're problem-solving together to support businesses. During that, we’re working with Valley Regional Transit on some of our transportation goals. and of course, our MultiModal, our ways of moving people outside of cars. So, bike lanes, our pedestrian pathway vision… They're important partners in all this.
PRENTICE: Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, have a great Monday, and a great rest of your week. And as always, we're very appreciative of you giving us a few minutes.
MCLEAN: Thanks, George. Great to talk to you. Look forward to being back with more news on the summer.
Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren
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