Asking for help

Published 1:09 am Saturday, February 2, 2008

VIDALIA — Before they move forward with plans for a new recreation complex, the Concordia Recreation District No. 3 wants public input.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury, of which the recreation district is a political subdivision, has set a public hearing about the purchase of land to build a new recreation complex.

The hearing will be at the jury’s Feb. 11 meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m.

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The recreation district has proposed buying 20 acres of land located behind the Vidalia Wal-Mart.

The City of Vidalia has agreed to buy 30 acres of land adjacent to that property and to lease it to the district for a nominal fee.

The land the two groups are looking at purchasing is being sold at a price of $17,000 an acre.

Once the district gets approval from the police jury, city and recreation district officials will meet and draw up an intergovernmental agreement, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

“Once we buy this land, all we are asking them (the recreation district) to do is develop it,” Copeland said.

Until the property is bought, however, there are no definite plans, Recreation District No. 3 President Marc Archer said.

“At this point, we’re basically tying to purchase the land, and then we will draw up some plans for the recreation complex,” Archer said. “This is a long term goal to replace the existing facilities.”

If everything goes through, the first phase of construction at the complex will include new baseball, softball and soccer fields, Archer said.

“It will be the standard type recreation complex,” Archer said. “As it goes further there may be some other things added as the public may say ‘we want this’ and ‘we want that.’”

Those kinds of additions may include tennis courts or a park area, Archer said.

It all depends on funding, Archer said, and what is necessary will be done first and the additional work will be done, as funds are available.

The public will have a chance for input throughout the process, Archer said.

And that is why the police jury decided to have a public hearing, Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said.

“I think they’ve got a good idea, and I don’t have any problem with that,” he said. “In all fairness to the taxpayer I think they (taxpayers) should have a say-so and have some knowledge of what the recreation district is intending on doing.”

Archer said he does not foresee any real objection to the plan.

“The main thing now is to secure the land,” he said.