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Cooper the kind of partner Meridian needs

By By Paul Barrett
Jan. 20, 2002
Setting the record straight is always a good thing. Through a series of misunderstandings of a complicated issue, a report we issued this week concerning the Cooper Communities project may have been misleading. The first paragraph or two of the story gave some readers the impression that the city, specifically Mayor John Robert Smith, had mislead the public about the cost of the project and exactly what Cooper was paying. That was not the case.
It is my opinion that the mayor has been forthright and open about explaining the conditions, elements and costs of the project. There are specifics to be worked out through the contract negotiations and I believe those will be announced in full at the appropriate time.
The larger issue is that The Meridian Star very much endorses the project. We have from the beginning. Cooper Communities is a first rate organization with a proven track record. They are the kind of partners a community needs to raise the quality of life another level.
I have personally visited, played golf at and otherwise enjoyed two different Cooper communities. I would be proud to have either one of them within our city limits.
Most people in this part of the country have not had the pleasure of seeing a Cooper development. One thing you notice immediately about a Cooper project is that they love trees. My sense is that they see trees as an asset to be worked around, not as something to be indiscriminately stripped away.
Spending almost 15 years in Dallas, Texas, I saw a lot of development first hand. I've seen contractors and developers come in full bore and strip away land and trees in an irresponsible manner. I've never seen any such thing with these folks.
I know there is opposition, both to the development itself and to the new golf course. I have heard the arguments and do believe they have merit. I just believe on balance, with what I know about the people who will be developing the community, the quality of life in Meridian will be enhanced, not diminished with this project.
The land was acquired for development. In the meantime it has served as a great place to hike, run, trail ride, and sail a daysailer as my son has done on a number of occasions on the upper lake. It will still be a great place to do many of those things when the development is completed.
The feeling of enthusiasm and optimism continues to be palpable in Meridian. Many of our customers have told us that the economy caused that feeling to wane a bit in the last year. But with this announcement came a new sense of excitement and a renewed feeling of vitality in our local economy.
I have talked to so many people who have said the timing could not have been better for this project. I agree.
I urge those of you who have opinions, one way or the other, to write letters to the editor expressing those views. We need open dialogue and participation. We need to hear how people feel on the issues. There are no wrong opinions. Just differing ones. We hope you let yours be heard.