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Dog-eared chart helps illustrate development plan

By By Buddy Bynum/editor
Feb. 10, 2002
Mayor John Robert Smith uses a well-traveled, dog-eared chart to illustrate the master plan he had drawn up for the Bonita Lakes/Long Creek areas about eight years ago. It shows city-owned acreage with a multitude of potential uses, including residential, recreational and light commercial.
The old chart came in handy the other day as Smith detailed for Meridian Kiwanians the particulars of a Cooper Communities proposal to build a residential retirement community in Meridian. The chart helped lend perspective, visually and geographically, to what is being proposed.
Additional charts illustrated Cooper's residential retirement community along Long Creek Reservoir and what is now Lakeview Golf Course, and related elements a new municipal golf course at Bonita Lakes and how it can be designed to coexist with walking, jogging, hiking, biking and horseback riding interests.
He said he is meeting with representatives of Friends of Bonita and other residents concerned about the siting of the new municipal golf course and talking about ways to change the initial design which was preliminary anyway. It is virtually certain now that accommodations will be made by golf course architects and it will happen because of the vocal persistence of the hikers, bikers and horseback riders who use Bonita trails.
The result of moving some of the new course's holes to the north should protect plenty of natural ground for those who pursue interests other than golf, with enough wooded separation that no hiker gets hit by a stray golf shot.
Suffice it to say, the Cooper project could be the the realization of a dream that, one day, the Bonita Lakes/Long Creek areas can achieve their highest and best value over the long term. And, from a growth and development perspective, finding the highest and best use for any piece of land is what really matters.
The vast majority of folks I've talked to and heard from over the past few weeks are very supportive of the Cooper project  called Meridian Village and the prospect of building homes and a new golf course for residents on the grounds of the current Lakeview. The controversy has focused on the new municipal course at Bonita Lakes.
I believe the fact that the key players are talking to each other will result in a design for the new municipal golf course that is suitable for all.
Overall, Smith made a thorough presentation to Kiwanians, as he has with other civic clubs and a variety of organizations. He answered questions, acknowledged that details remain to be finalized and left most of the Kiwanians feeling really upbeat about the deal.
Smith said Cooper wants to begin construction next month and have the first homes ready by October, although he conceded that may be a bit optimistic. First, he joked, the lawyers will have to turn a two-page letter of intent into a 30-40 page legal document that the city council will be asked to ratify.