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City park to open for play soon

VIDALIA — Contractors have completed construction on the first phase of a city park at the Vidalia municipal complex, but residents will still have to wait a few months to play ball.

Construction on the three basketball courts, tennis court lighting, shelter and restrooms along with overall utility work of the William T. Polk City Park were completed earlier this month.

The park, located on 25 acres of land to the west of the new municipal complex on U.S. 84, is currently operating under a five-phase, five-year plan.

And while the park is separate from the new recreation complex located just a few feet away, Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, parks and recreation director for the complex, said he and city officials agreed that waiting to cut the ribbon on both facilities at the same time would be best.

“Even though the tennis and basketball courts are on the other side, everything is all part of the bigger picture and everything is coming along great with both parts,” Hoffpauir said. “We’re getting closer every day, but like I told someone the other day I don’t know if we’re ever going to be finished because there will always be upgrades and repairs to do along the way.”

As each of the five phases for the city park are completed, funding and construction for the other phases become available.

Phase two construction includes a fishing pond with amenities and a spray ground fountain area.

Phases three and four include a playground area, gazebo with stone fireplace, walking trail, disc golf course and other amenities.

Phase five is being left open for future projects or projects from previous phases that couldn’t be constructed within the budget.

Funding for the city park project comes from matching grants from the U.S. Department of Interior in the amount of $250,000 for each phase. Vidalia will pay $250,000 to match Department of Interior funds.

Each phase of construction is slated to take approximately 10 months to complete.

The remainder of the phases of construction will overlap with the operation of the $6.5 million recreation complex located to the east of the municipal complex.

The complex, which takes up approximately 50 acres on the lot, will feature tennis courts, four baseball fields, four softball fields, covered and uncovered basketball courts, soccer fields, concession stands and a number of other features.

With construction on the majority of the complex also complete, Hoffpauir said the project has come a long way since the groundbreaking.

“Last August there were beans growing out there, and I’ve gotten the privilege to watch it grow into a top quality recreation area,” Hoffpauir said.

“These parks are going to be a great thing for our community and also provide economic development opportunities for the entire area.”

The complex and first phase of the park should be available for residents to use by late November or early December, Hoffpauir said.