Mayor: ‘I want input’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

VIDALIA &045;&045; Mayor Hyram Copeland said he wants the public to attend a Jan. 11 meeting between the City of Vidalia and Recreation District No. 3 to address funding for the potential development of a recreational center.

&uot;I want the public to be aware of the proceedings and I want their input,&uot; Copeland said.

The meeting comes after much deliberation and compromise.

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&uot;There have been some on both the board and in the public who disagree with the two groups working together,&uot; Copeland said. &uot;We’re trying to sit down one more time and come up with a solution to benefit the people of Vidalia.&uot;

Copeland said the board of aldermen joined forces with the recreation district so the possible tax increase, which would likely come with the new facility, would be minor.

Since the recreational distict resides over a larger population, the tax increase per person would be less than if solely Vidalia was taxed.

&uot;Instead of asking for 15 mills, we could do it for five mills through the recreation board,&uot; he said. &uot;We joined together to save the people money.&uot;

A group of concerned citizens who are against a tax increase have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss their opposition, Vidalia resident Corrine Randazzo said this week.

The group has discussed ways to lobby voters against the tax vote, but Randazzo said the citizens are waiting to see what might happen at next week’s meeting.

According to Copeland, the new recreational facility would benefit the city greatly.

&uot;If you go through towns with this type of facility, you can see the (benefits). It brings people in to dine in your restaurants, stay in your hotels and shop at your stores. It has tremendous economic impact.&uot;

Copeland said the recreational center would be open to people of all ages and from all walks of life, including those outside of Vidalia.

&uot;I think it’s for everyone,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re planning on doing things that will accommodate a 2-year-old as well as a 70-year-old. It’s for anyone in the Miss-Lou area.&uot;

Copeland said the response from the public has been a positive one thus far.

&uot;I’ve not received any negative calls. We’ve already held a public hearing and, (out of a packed room), only four people raised their hands against the proposal,&uot; he said.

Copeland said he hopes the city will have a clearer vision of the proposal’s future on Tuesday.

&uot;After this meeting, I think we’ll know what direction we’re going to take,&uot; he said.

The meeting will be held Tuesday at 6p.m.

Kerry Whipple

contributed to this report.