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Sunday, Jan. 13, 2002

By Staff
City committed to careful nurturing' of Bonita Lakes
To the editor:
A number of residents have asked for a statement of the facts regarding the development of a municipal golf course on Bonita Lakes property and the impact it will have on other users of this very special and beautiful place.
The Bonita Lakes property consists of approximately 2,000 acres, including the lakes. The new municipal golf course, which will hug the Highway 45 Bypass, will include the clearing of less than 150 acres. The Lauderdale County Agri-Center, already in use, involves 50 acres, and the proposed Arts and Entertainment Center will use about 175 acres.
What remains is 1,625 acres of woodlands and lakes to be enjoyed by walkers, joggers, hikers, cyclists, horse riders, picnickers, fishermen and nature lovers. The area proposed for the golf course includes about 15 miles of trails, with only about 1/2 mile to be displaced by the golf course and portions of some other trails rerouted so both golfers and trail users can enjoy Bonita. In addition, there are many more trails throughout the remainder of the 1,625 acres.
We are committed to the very careful nurturing of Bonita Lakes as a place that welcomes all of these enthusiasts and that will provide recreation and sanctuary for future generations.
Maureen Lofton
Assistant for Governmental Affairs
City of Meridian
Bonita park can co-exist with golf course
To the editor:
In response to recent protests regarding development of the Bonita Lakes area, I respectfully offer a different perspective. I, like many others, enjoy the Bonita Lakes area and run the trails out there on a regular basis. It is beautiful, is in fact a rarity for a city our size, and should continue for posterity to be used for the many recreational uses now enjoyed.
I believe, however, that we can maintain Bonita Lakes as both a multi-use, natural park while at the same time welcoming the proposed golf course as a part of the Cooper development.
It is tempting to be swept up by the emotional argument against altering (in any way) the Bonita Lakes area. Reality is that, without the sidewalks, streets, lighting, bathrooms, trail-cutting and covered areas now provided by the city at Bonita, very few of our citizens would have ever enjoyed this beautiful area on foot, bike or horseback.
A golf course on less than one-fourth of this property will not diminish (much less destroy!) its beauty or recreational value, nor will cutting trees necessary to put in the golf course alter the pristine appearance of the area, nor threaten the ecosystem as some have seemed to suggest.
As a footnote, this state has almost 19 million acres of forestland 62 percent of the total land area one million of it in national forests. Total forest acreage has remained stable for the last 40 years, we have two million more acres of timber now than there were in 1934, and more acres now in hardwood stands than there were in 1957. We have six national forests and 28 state parks, 11 of which are within a two-hour drive of Meridian.
In short, we are not running out of forests and there is no shortage of locations for outdoor lovers to enjoy.
We all should rightly conserve our natural resources, but not lock them up to the detriment of the greater good. We have before us a proposed community within the city that, along with other developments, could help this city turn the corner into the prosperity we have been waiting on for decades.
It should not be threatened by our reluctance to share some of the Bonita Lakes area, which just a few years ago was unknown to most and dismissed by others as the "old waterworks." We have a rare opportunity to have our cake and eat it, too; I hope we don't bite the hand that is feeding it to us.
Jim McGinnis
Meridian
Bonita Lakes: Once it's gone, it's gone
To Mayor John Robert Smith, the members of the Meridian City Council, the citizens of Meridian, and the editor:
I have been reading with some interest the debate over the Bonita Lakes Property and the construction of a golf course within it. I would like to offer my observation and opinion as someone who is unbiased as to the recreational opportunities the area affords us.
As I was looking at The Meridian Star's book, A Pictorial History of Lauderdale and Surrounding Counties, I saw a photograph of a beautiful home, the Rosenbaum Home from 1907. I thought what a fantastic contribution that home could have made to the city of Meridian were it still here. It was located on the site of the Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library. What if our forefathers had thought of the possibility of saving the Rosenbaum Home and building the library on a different spot? Wouldn't they have been visionaries and wouldn't we benefit from their foresight?
Would we consider demolishing even just a part of Merrehope, the Carousel, or Union Station in the name of "progress"? I think not. So why would we destroy land that is rich in timber and wildlife that is already being used and enjoyed by many? It seems possible to have both the undisturbed natural trails of Bonita and a golf course on different property.
Please don't destroy the beauty of Bonita with bulldozers like the Rosenbaum Home was destroyed. Mayor Smith and members of the City Council, the citizens of Meridian elected you to represent them and their wishes. If you read The Meridian Star, it seems overwhelmingly that they wish for you to keep the trails of Bonita as they are and develop a golf course elsewhere.
Will you please do what the majority wants? That, as I see it, is your job.
Leslie M. Covington
Meridian
New golf course doesn't warrant destruction of natural areas
To the editor:
I have read with interest the many letters and articles concerning the Bonita Lakes project. As a former resident of Meridian I have seen the Bonita area grow from the "water works" to its present state. As a certified golf course superintendent I have been involved in many facets of golf course operation, including construction of two golf courses. Very seldom do the rewards to the community of building and maintaining a golf course warrant the destruction of irreplaceable natural areas.
Having recently visited in Meridian, I noticed many areas still undeveloped which would offer acceptable sites for a golf course. Surely (Mayor) John Robert (Smith) knows of many more and through careful evaluation of the construction process can find an area which would be enhanced by the addition of a golf course rather than destroying one of Meridian's too few attractions.
Golf has been a growing industry in the 90's but is starting to see a slow down in use. A recent survey in a national golf publication indicated that only 8 percent of leisure time is used by golfers.
Meridian doesn't have the local populace to support an upscale public facility. May I suggest you have a few good citizens of Meridian analyze the impact a golf course would have and carefully consider ALL options before destroying one of our last truly natural areas.
Chris Agnew, CGCS
Decatur, Ala.

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