By Terri Ferguson Smith / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
With county officials likely to vote on a $14 million bond issue on Monday, opponents are trying to get the needed 1,500 signatures on a petition drive to force a county-wide vote on the issue.
They have until 9 a.m. Monday when the Board of Supervisors meets to collect the needed signatures.
In April the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution of intent to pass the bond issue, the first step in the process of getting the funds.
The bond issue proposes to spend $3.8 million to build a 32,000 square foot sports complex that will house a four-court gymnasium with bleachers at Highland Park. Also, $3.5 million of the bonds will go to the county-owned fields of the West Lauderdale Youth Association; $2.5 million will go to the county-owned Clarkdale Community Recreation Association park construction, and the remainder, $4.2 million, will go to fund the first step in the renovation of the the county courthouse.
The bond issue is on the agenda for the Monday meeting.
Some residents expressed disappointment last month after learning of the proposed bond issue, citing concerns about the potential impact to a larger sports complex that has been talked about for about three years. Dr. David McGrew has spearheaded efforts to bring a central sports complex to Meridian, but so far a location and funding have not been found. He and other complex proponents would have liked to have seen some of the bond issue earmarked for the central sports complex as well.
Van Goodman has been involved in the petition drive and supports the idea of a central sports complex, but he said in the last few weeks of circulating the petition and educating voters about the bond issue, he has learned that opponents of the bond issue have a myriad of reasons they don't want to see it go forward.
"This petition isn't the sports complex, it isn't the people who are against renovating the courthouse, it isn't people that are against the basketball complex and Highland, it's not the people who are against a bond issue of any kind, it's everybody," Goodman said. "It's a conglomeration. Everyone we have walked up to to discuss this matter has their own reason for this bond issue to be rejected and brought to a county-wide vote. There are people who don't want it, period, there are people that think it would be better to level the courthouse and build a new one rather than spend money to renovate it."
The type of recreation facility that McGrew, Goodman and others have asked for is the type that has brought millions in revenue to cities such as Southaven, Columbus and Tupelo, he said.
As the clock ticks toward the Monday meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Goodman said they are doing everything they can to get the required number of signatures. He did not reveal the number of signatures collected so far but said that they are trying to get more than the required 1,500 because they expect that some signatures may be rejected.
Goodman said he hopes those interested in the bond issue will attend the Monday Board of Supervisors meeting at 9 a.m. The board meets downstairs at the Davis Annex Building on Constitution Avenue.
Anyone who wishes to turn in signatures or sign a petition this weekend may do so at the office of Dr. David McGrew, 1605 23rd Avenue, Meridian on Sunday between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m.