Vidalia seeks $10M for visitors center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Staffers of Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office confirmed Monday that office will request that Congress earmark funds to construct a visitors center at the Vidalia riverfront.

Vidalia officials are requesting $10 million for the center’s construction. But it is too early in the budget process to say how much the town could receive, said Jennifer Lancaster, projects correspondent for Landrieu’s Washington office.

&uot;We’re going to request that Congress put an earmark in their appropriations bills for fiscal year 2002,&uot; which starts Oct. 1, Lancaster said. &uot;We’re gathering local requests now and will turn them in to the Appropriations Committee.&uot;

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During a trip to Washington last week, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland spoke about funding for the project with Lancaster and other officials from the offices of Landrieu and Sen. John Breaux, both D-La.

&uot;They’re looking at different avenues for funding over the next year or two, but we hope to receive something in the next funding cycle,&uot; Copeland said.

A timeline has not yet been set for construction of the visitors center since a source of funding has not yet been found.

But when finished, the center would include such things as visitor services, a Vidalia museum, a 5,000-square-foot meeting center and Vidalia Chamber of Commerce offices, Copeland said.

&uot;A center like this would highlight the riverfront development,&uot; he said.

Copeland also noted that projection show that up to 42,000 cars could travel through Vidalia each day when four-laning of U.S. 61 and U.S. 84 is finished. Such a center could help attract tourists from such thoroughfares into Vidalia and boost the local economy, Copeland said.

Breaux staffer Johnny Broussard, with whom Copeland also met last week, could not be reached for comment Monday.

When completed, Vidalia Landing is also expected to include condominiums, recreational fields and other attractions. An RV park has been constructed north of the Mississippi River bridge.

And a medical complex featuring imaging, ambulatory surgery, industrial medicine facilities and specialists’ offices is scheduled to be open on the riverfront by June 2002.

Officials have said the development, which has been in the works since 1992, could bring 400 jobs to a parish with high unemployment and would attract more tourists.