Recreation forum set for today

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

VIDALIA — The second of two forums to discuss the new recreation complex in Vidalia will be 6 p.m. today in the police jury’s meeting room in the Concordia Parish Courthouse.

The forum will serve as an informational meeting in which residents can ask questions and share opinions about the recreation complex and the 40-year tax millage renewal the Recreation District No. 3 has slated for this May, Recreation District No. 3 Secretary Lula Caldwell said.

“It is simply an open meeting to invite taxpayers to come and ask questions and to show them the layout, the sketches and the designs (of the complex), mostly to try to dispel any doubts anybody might have,” Caldwell said.

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The first forum, which was April 8, was poorly attended, Recreation District No. 3 President Marc Archer said.

“A friend of mine said that if nobody shows up, nobody has opposition, but I am kind of naive enough to think that people would want to show up and give us their opinion,” Archer said.

While the plans for the complex will be discussed, Archer said the extent to which that can be done will be limited.

“A lot of that is preliminary until the tax is renewed and we can pull the final drafts, but we are going to entertain questions and answer them as best we can,” he said.

The tax millage that supports the Recreation District No. 3 has been renewed every 10 years since the district was created in the middle of the last century, but district officials said a 40-year renewal is needed to demonstrate long-term funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan for which they plan to apply.

Officials have previously said they believe they can pay the loan off in approximately 22 years, but no 22-year loan is available.

The district is funded by a 3.89-mil tax.

The land on which the complex will be built is located west of Walmart on U.S. 84 outside of Vidalia.

The recreation district and the City of Vidalia signed an intergovernmental agreement to purchase 50-acres of land there at a cost of $17,000 an acre.

The district purchased 20 acres of land, and the city purchased the other 30. The city then leased the land to the district for 50 years at a cost of $100 a year.

When the lease expires in 2057, the recreation district will have the option to lease the land for another 50 years.