Vidalia signs contract on recreation complex

Published 12:24 am Friday, September 4, 2009

VIDALIA — The Concordia Recreation District No. 3 board took the first step toward making the new recreation complex a reality Thursday when it signed the engineering contract for the project.

In addition to signing the contract, the board voted to allow President Marc Archer to sign all paperwork involved in the project, provided he advises the board first.

The engineering firm the board signed with was Bryant Hammett and Associates, and Hammett said he was glad to be part of the project.

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It’s not unreasonable to believe construction of the complex can get under way in a year-and-a-half, Hammett said.

“My hope is we can be playing on these fields by the summer of 2012,” Archer said.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he is excited to see the project moving forward.

“I think it is one of the most tremendous projects Vidalia has undertaken, and I believe it will have a tremendous economic impact,” he said. “But not only that, it will provide something for the children.”

Archer said the next step in getting the complex built is to have three public hearings in three different locations around the district, and Copeland offered the board the use of the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center for one of the meetings.

“You are going to have to sit down as the board, take all these comments (from the meetings), and come up with some kind of final design (for the complex),” Hammett said.

At the recreation board’s next meeting, it will decide on hiring a bonding attorney, Archer said.

The funding for the project will come through the USDA, and Hammett said, because the project will have federal dollars involved, board members should not be surprised if some things take a long time.

“There’s no telling how many trees we are going to kill with the paperwork they are going to require for this program,” he said. “It’s their money, so they make the rules. It’s an arduous process.”

When board member John H. Turner asked what the board could do to ensure local labor is hired for the construction, Archer said that bid law might restrict who the board chooses.

“In the bid contract you can encourage use of local labor, but you can’t mandate it,” Hammett said. “This is the federal government, so they’re looking at it as a bigger universe than we’re used to.”

Bid law requires the contract be awarded to the lowest bidder, he said.

“We would like to see a local contractor be the prime contractor, but if they’re not the low bidder the USDA isn’t going to allow us to award it,” Hammett said.

The new recreation complex will be located to the west of Walmart on U.S. 84.

Preliminary plans for the complex include baseball, softball and soccer fields, and basketball and tennis courts.

The plans also include bathrooms, concession stands and a parking area.

The recreation district bought 20 of the 50 acres the complex will be built on

The City of Vidalia bought 30 acres adjacent to the tract the recreation district bought, and then leased its tract to the recreation district as part of an intergovernmental agreement.

The land cost $17,000 an acre.

The recreation district is funded by a 3.87-mil tax.