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Vidalia complexes no longer a field of dreams

BEN HILLYER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Melvara Wilson, left, and Willie Smith get their first look Tuesday afternoon at the baseball and softball fields at the new recreation complex adjacent to the Vidalia municipal complex. Due to rain, many people decided to take the city trolley to tour the new complex.

VIDALIA — Vidalia Alderman Triand “Tron” McCoy said Tuesday he couldn’t always envision what would happen on the west end of Vidalia.

BEN HILLYER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Officials cut the ribbon in front of the Vidalia City Hall in celebration of the city’s new municipal complex and the new recreation complex for Concordia Recreation District 3.

At the joint ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new city municipal complex — the new City Hall and police and fire stations — and the Concordia Recreation District No. 3 recreation complex, McCoy said he at one time had to take Mayor Hyram Copeland at his word about the projects.

“I passed by this place many times, and it was just a field, and (when) the mayor said it was going to be a complex, I was like, ‘OK’,” McCoy said.

But Tuesday, the alderman said he could look around and was proud of the work that went into what was only a few years ago a cornfield.

BEN HILLYER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Parks and Recreation Director Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, below, points out some of the unique features of the complex.

Copeland said the new complexes were the result of years of work and dreaming.

“If you could see the old fire station, the old police station and the old City Hall, you could see how bad we needed it,” he said.

The new municipal complex was built at the western border of the new Recreation District No. 3 recreation complex, at the time still under construction. Now that the recreation complex is finished, Copeland said that when one considers the resources available to the community, the recreation complex is “second to none in the state.”

The complex includes nine ball fields, including some that can alternate as baseball or softball fields, 12 tennis courts and three basketball courts. The city has future plans to build a complementary park alongside the complex.

BEN HILLYER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — The new recreation complex is already scheduled to host a college baseball game between Pearl River Community College and Baton Rouge Community College next spring.

Alderman Vernon Stevens said he sees a future in which the recreation complex will bring more people to the area.

“I think the complex will be a big draw to Vidalia,” he said. “For years our teams have traveled to other towns and spent their money there.”

Parks and Recreation Director for the complex, Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, said the complex will host a baseball game between Pearl River Community College and Baton Rouge Community College, and will host a United States Specialty Sports Association tournament in March.

Hoffpauir also said he will be meeting with the U.S. Tennis Association next week to discuss how to fully utilize the tennis courts.

The league sports that use the Concordia Recreation District No. 3’s facilities will now use the complex rather than the old fields behind Vidalia Lower Elementary.

“Most of (those present Tuesday) have children and grandchildren,” Hoffpauir said. “Your children and grandchildren will get a chance to play on one of the best complexes of its size.”

And it was for that reason that Alderman Ricky Knapp said he wanted the community to come out and see what has been built.

“These are your facilities,” he said. “This is yours, so I want to invite you to come out and make use of it.”