Riverfront project still rolling along

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – By July, Vidalia officials expect the first phase of site and infrastructure work for the Vidalia Landing riverfront development — and hope to get $2.2 million from the state for the project’s next phase.

Since early December, Pickett Industries crews have been working on the $1.66 million first phase — building an elevated walkway and an access road north of the Mississippi River bridge and a sewer lift station for the development’s RV park. &uot;We’re right on schedule,&uot;&160;Mayor Hyram Copeland said Monday.

Next, officials will ask the Legislature for $2.2 million in capital outlay funds to extend infrastructure south of the bridge and should hear by July whether the request has been granted, Copeland said. The town has already gotten $1.9 million from the state for the riverfront project.

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The $45 million development could include a visitors center, stores, restaurants, an amphitheater, condominiums, recreational fields and other attractions. A group of doctors has announced plans to build an outpatient surgical center there.

Copeland said he has received eight inquiries from hotels, stores and restaurants wanting to locate at the riverfront.

Officials have said the development could attract tourists and bring 400 jobs to a parish with double-digit unemployment.

Concordia Parish officials traveled to Washington in February to ask their Congressional delegation for help in getting $13.3 million to build a visitors center at Vidalia Landing.

&uot;I hope to set up a meeting with federal representatives in the next few weeks to discuss where we can find the funding,&uot; Copeland said. &uot;We may not get the full $13.3 million, but there’s undoubtedly some money out there.&uot;

Sidney Murray Jr., chairman of the Riverfront Authority, said he is glad to see the progress being made on the project.

&uot;We’ve been working since 1992 on this project,&uot; said Murray, adding that acquisition of 300 parcels of land was the project’s biggest hurdle. &uot;But now everything is coming together nicely.&uot;