Bill includes $9M for parish projects

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2000

A $2.8 billion capital outlay bill now before the Louisiana Legislature includes more than $9.2 million in projects affecting Concordia Parish.

Those projects include the Vidalia riverfront development, a new Department of Wildlife Office, a new museum and industrial building renovations in Ferriday and courthouse renovations.

The most money, $3.51 million in bond funds, would go to design and build both infrastructure and facilities for the planned Vidalia Landing development. The town has already gotten $1.9 million from the state for the riverfront project.

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&uot;That development will be very good for this area&uot; because it will add 400 jobs and attract tourists, said Sidney Murray, chairman of the Riverfront Authority.

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.

The second-biggest Concordia Parish project included in the bill would be construction of a new Region IV office for Office of Wildlife at a cost of $936,000.

&uot;We have a good bit of maintenance problems on this building, which was originally put here in the 1950s,&uot;&160;said Reggie Wycoff, Region 4 wildlife supervisor. &uot;But the main thing is that we’ve outgrown this building. We have a lot of people crowding into these offices.&uot;

Wycoff said he hopes funding for the office makes it into the version of the bill finally approved by legislators. &uot;It’s been in there several times and has been cut out … because the funds just aren’t there.&uot;

Under the capital outlay bill, Ferriday would also get funding for two projects, including $500,000 for renovation, planning and construction of industrial buildings.

It would also include $100,000 to renovate an old post building into the new home of the Ferriday Museum, now located on North E.E. Wallace Boulevard. That money would be matched with $229,000 in local funds.

The chamber has been tentatively approved for a $40,000 renovation grant – if the Legislature approves capital outlay money for the project. And if all the funding is approved, the museum could be in its new home by Dec. 1, Tanner said.

The bill also contains $100,000 to renovate the Concordia Parish courthouse, although Police Jury President Charlie Blaney isn’t sure the project will get funded this year given the state’s budget crunch.

&uot;We applied for money to renovate a downstairs office, make repairs to the parking lot, … just a lot of things,&uot;&160;Blaney said. &uot;That money’s been before the Legislature for two or three years now and still hasn’t approved. But we still need it.&uot;

Concordia would also be one of several parishes that would benefit from larger public works projects.

The capital outlay bill includes $4.025 million to raise the Mississippi River levee from Arkansas to Old River, which is in Concordia Parish.

Louisiana would also supplement $1 million in federal money with $50,000 in state funds to help plan the four-laning of U.S. 84 and Louisiana 6 from Vidalia to Texas. That project would affect Concordia, Catahoula, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Sabine and Winn parishes.