Sports Complex Debated

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Meridian city officials are discussing building a youth sports complex that would have accommodate baseball, softball, and soccer, and potentially other facilities. They say it could have an economic impact on the city in the millions every year.

But the question that is causing controversy is where to build the facility, specifically whether or not to use several hundred acres of the Bonita Lakes property for it.

The issue was debated at a public meeting Monday night.

Those in favor say that site is a great location because it is near the interstate and shopping, and could offer a lot to a diverse group of people.

"Everything that could be placed there, the equestrian trails, the golf course, the baseball facilities, all in one location, it has such an economic potential," said Christie Rowcliff. "And it has potential to help everybody out there in one spot."

Those who are against putting it there say having a facility of that magnitude would spoil everything that is great about Bonita.

"We absolutely support the idea and the need to have a sports complex in Meridian," said Tim Irvine of Bonita Running Club. "It's just that Meridian only has one Bonita Lakes, and once it's gone, it's gone; you can't rebuild that."

Put Mayor Cheri Barry is in the camp against putting it at Bonita. She says she is absolutely for building the facility, just somewhere else.

"We're looking at the best possible piece of property for the site, and in my eyes, it is certainly not Bonita Lakes," Barry said. "We have a gem in Bonita Lakes and we need to protect her."

The complex is still quite a distance in the future. The debate on the best place for it looks like it won't be coming to an end any time soon.

Other proposed sites for the sports complex are: the old fairgounds site on South Frontage Road, a site on old Highway 80, the former Fish Hatchery site on Highway 11, property north of Phil Hardin Park, and land off the new Jimmie Rodgers Parkway.

If the complex is built, it would likely be paid for with a two percent restaurant tax.