Officials: Vidalia Riverfront debuts with few hitches

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – The &uot;debut&uot; of the improved Vidalia riverfront — last weekend’s balloon race — went off with few hitches, according to local officials and those who visited the riverfront to watch the race.

&uot;It was very nice,&uot; said Jan Scarborough, who watched Saturday’s flights from the riverfront with her husband, Bruce. &uot;It’s the first time I&160;had been on the riverfront since they started work there. I&160;didn’t realize how far they had gotten with it.&uot;

Most of the first phase of the $45 million Vidalia Landing development planned for the riverfront has been finished, including building of a riverwalk, roads and other infrastructure.

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And last weekend, scores of locals and tourists went to the riverfront to watch Friday night’s balloon glow and flights on Saturday and Sunday, some getting their first look at the development’s first phase.

&uot;Everything I’ve heard about it has been positive,&uot;&160;said Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland. &uot;People are pleased with the riverfront and how it looked, and we’re proud of it, too. Everyone’s worked extremely hard on it.&uot;

&uot;I think everyone can see the potential that’s there (on the riverfront),&uot; said Sidney Murray Jr., chairman of the Riverfront Authority.

One person that is excited about that potential is Jim Sanders, who visited the riverfront site this weekend to view the events of the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

&uot;I’m excited about the future of the riverfront,&uot;&160;Sanders said.

He also said the Town of Vidalia did a good job of organizing the riverfront events, including routing the large amount of traffic that came through the area.

&uot;A friend of mine has one of those handicapped stickers on his car, and they had a spot for him close to the event,&uot;&160;Sanders said. &uot;It just seemed to be really well organized.&uot;

And both Sanders and Scarborough said the riverfront provided one of the best views of the race.

&uot;We sat right across from the (Isle of Capri) Casino, and we could see the balloons coming up from the Ramada,&uot;&160;Scarborough said. &uot;And when the balloons came down, a few of them landed right there where we were.&uot;

&uot;There couldn’t have been a better spot,&uot;&160;Sanders added.

But there will be more to see at the riverfront in the future, local officials said.

The second phase of the Vidalia Landing development will include amphitheater, a fountain plaza, restroom and shaded seating, Murray said. He believes the town’s Board of Aldermen should be ready to advertise for bids for the second phase in December.

When completed, Vidalia Landing will include condominiums, recreational fields and other attractions. A group of doctors is working on plans to build an outpatient surgical center there.

An RV park south of the Mississippi River bridge was already developed in time for the balloon race, during which it accommodated about 40 RVs, Murray said.