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Preserving Bonita: Residents want another site for new golf course

By Staff
SAVING THE LAKES Meridian resident Collier Holmes stands in front of a series of nature trails that wind around Bonita Lakes. Holmes, a member of Friends of Bonita Lakes, said Tuesday that a planned championship golf course near the lakes threatens to destroy the nature trails and the area's natural beauty. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/staff writer
Jan. 9, 2002
Collier Holmes loves lacing up his Timberland hiking boots, strapping on a hip pack and heading out for hours of hiking though the pristine rolling hills that surround Bonita Lakes.
Holmes and his wife, Sue Ann, trek twice a week on nature trails that span more than 15 miles and weave through the city park near the area's two lakes.
That soon could be the case if an Arkansas company follows through with plans to build a new public, championship golf course off Highway 45 and near Bonita Lakes' upper lake.
Cooper Land Development Co. wants to build the new golf course to replace Lakeview Golf Course. The company plans to buy Lakeview from the city and make it a private course for residents of a proposed $35 million retirement community.
Plans draw ire
Those plans have upset some Meridian residents.
While they welcome the new retirement community to the city, they said, they staunchly oppose developing any more of the city's only nature area.
Holmes and nearly 40 other golf course opponents attended the Meridian City Council meeting Tuesday to persuade city leaders to consider another site for the course.
Supporters of "Friends of Bonita Lakes" an organization of residents concentrating on preserving the natural state of the park say too much of the city's natural land at Bonita and Lakeview is being designated for golfers.
Nell Covington, a Meridian resident and member of Friends of Bonita Lakes, said about 1,700 acres or 51 percent of the total public land base in Bonita and Lakeview is committed to golfing and the retirement community.
Mayor outlines plans
Mayor John Robert Smith disagreed.
Smith showed plans to re-route several nature trails that would be interrupted by the new golf course. He said the trails would lose a little more than half a mile when the course is built.
But Holmes said his group believes there is a simple solution to satisfy everyone: The city should find another site for a new golf course.