Aldermen listen to public on recreation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

After several meetings with much public discussion, the Vidalia mayor and board of aldermen agreed earlier this week to begin the process of hiring a consultant to look into recreation needs.

Their decision seems to be the right one for the community at this time, and shows that town leaders are listening to the concerns of many residents.

The recreation issue &045; especially a proposed 15-mill tax increase to pay for new facilities &045; has divided the community, with many residents against any kind of tax increase, while many people remain supportive of new recreation facilities.

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The board of aldermen’s decision does not halt any plans, but it does allow more time for the community to become involved in the process and to get outside professional advice on the town’s recreation needs.

But one frustrating aspect of Tuesday night’s meeting was the recreation district board’s refusal to discuss the issue with the board or with members of the public who were gathered at town hall.

The meeting was intended to be a joint session of both the aldermen and the recreation board, a chance for members of both boards to discuss the issue and possible alternatives.

But rather than stay for the meeting &045; or to answer questions from any members of the public &045; the recreation board offered one suggestion, refused to concede on proposing a tax increase, and left the meeting without any further discussion.

The recreation board should have stayed for the discussion. As officials appointed by the Concordia Parish Police Jury, they have a responsibility to be accountable to the public. We would have liked to see their contribution to the meeting.

As it was, though, the board of aldermen and mayor presided over an often emotional but still productive discussion &045; and came to a well thought-out decision in the end.