by Kevin Hughes
on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 at 11:39am.
Traditionally, US cities featuring any sort of "game-day" event will bring in a lot of traffic and noise. But the Meridian and Emmett tracks in Idaho are something of an anomaly in this respect. Both cities create fun and excitement in town on the weekends, but the every-day atmosphere is relatively serene.
Modern homes with 5-plus acres in surrounding areas typically fall with in the $400,000 range. As you get closer to the racetrack in Meridian, a small sacrifice is made in terms of acreage but the Meridian homes compensate with square footage. A comparable home in Meridian, price-wise, usually has five or six bedrooms. And while the landmass and local population doesn't allow for the large, ranch-like surroundings, the residential atmosphere doesn't feel crowded on the house-lined streets.
Of course, the idea of a quaint and quiet neighborhood seems contradictory for a town with a speedway. Meridian Speedway showcases sprintcar racing events on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer. But the Speedway is sectioned off in a corner of the city on the southern end of South Main Street. Meridian keeps "live and play" distinct from one another as the grid of the town spaces out the closer you get to I-84. The more immediate neighborhood attractions include fine dining restaurants and Settlers Park. The track is two miles down the road from the center of town and three miles from Meridian High School, the local public secondary school creating an easy to get to place to watch the races.
An alternative to Meridian is Emmett, which is 30 miles down the road. Emmett has a race track-casino of its own which is focused primarily on horse racing. The track allows the town to maintain the excitement of live racing, and the real estate is significantly less expensive. The average 3-bedroom, 2,000-plus square foot home ranges in price from the low- to mid-200 thousands. Another bedroom with larger grounds raises the going rate significantly--typically doubling it--but the more moderate houses provide relatively comfortable homes and are in closer proximity to the center of town.
The number of residents in Emmett is less than Meridian. (Emmett has a population just under 5,500 residents compared to nearly 7,000 in Meridian.) And Meridian is expanding rapidly, with 12,000 platted home sites across the Meridian School District. For residents, this means a greater amount of choices for K-12 education and new, modern housing. With a smaller population, Emmett allows for more breathing space between homes and smaller, individual-based school programs as seen by the local public high school having around only 1,000 students.
But in the end, if you like to go out and party and return to a cozy living space, either Meridian or Emmett would meet your expectations. The decision between the two ultimately comes down to budget and the kind of neighborly love you prefer.