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$400K headed to Vidalia park

VIDALIA — Concession stands, improvements to a fishing pond and a spray park could be opening early next spring now that the City of Vidalia has received a $400,000 grant for the second phase of its city park project.

The grant, which was awarded from U.S. Department of the Interior funds through the Louisiana Office of State Parks, is the second such funding the city has received, Vidalia Grant Coordinator Teresa Dennis said.

Construction for the first phase of the park, which included three basketball courts, tennis court lighting, shelter and restrooms, was recently completed. That phase was funded by a similar grant — $500,000 —  from the state parks office.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the city’s match portions for the grant would be done using in-kind services installing such infrastructure as electrical, water and sewer services.

Barring construction delays, Dennis said the city hopes to have the second phase open by spring 2013.

The overall park project has been broken into five phases, and when completed, the city park will be a between $2.5 and $3 million investment, Copeland said.

The 25-acre park is adjacent to the new Recreation District No. 3 recreation complex, and while they will be separate operations, they will not appear so.

“In combination with the recreation complex, by the time (the city and the recreation district) finish both projects, you are looking at a $10 million complex we will have between the organizations,” he said.

The concession stand that will be built using the grant will be the same size and shape as the restroom and shower facilities at the recreation complex, Dennis said, and will be built in a location that will give the area a visual balance.

The improvements to the fishing pond will include a fishing pier and an elevated walking trail over the water, Dennis said.

The grant coordinator said she is also seeking public input about how the spray park should be designed.

Once the construction on the second phase of the park is completed, Dennis said the city will put in an application for the third phase to be funded.

And Copeland said he believes future grant funding for the coming phases is likely.

“The rule of thumb is that if you get funded for the first phase and do it correctly, then usually the next phase is going to get funded,” he said.