• 32°

Parish moves forward with recreation plans

VIDALIA — With funding secured for the next 40 years thanks to the recent tax renewal, officials with the Concordia Recreation District No. 3 have started moving forward with their plans for the new recreation complex in Vidalia.

“The engineers are drawing the final plans to go ahead with the project,” recreation district President Marc Archer said. “They are doing some preliminary site work to submit the final drafts (of the plans) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

The recreation project will ultimately be financed through a combination loan and grant from the USDA, and the recent tax renewal was extended to 40 years to guarantee to the lending agency that the district would have an income for the duration of the loan.

“As soon as we hear from the USDA, now that we have proved to them we have the means to pay the loan back, we will get going,” district Secretary-Treasurer Lula Caldwell said.

Archer said he hopes to know for certain how much of the funding will be loan and how much will be grant within 60 to 80 days.

In the meantime, the preliminary drawings that were presented to the public when the district was lobbying for the tax renewal are being reworked in greater detail now that the work is guaranteed, Archer said.

“They are doing some fine tuning, getting down to exactly where the concession stands are going to be, how many bathrooms there will be, et cetera,” he said.

“On a preliminary drawing, you might show that a bathroom is going to be in a certain spot, but you don’t necessarily put how many toilets are going to be on the wall.”

If everything runs smoothly, the district could break ground on the project in 12 months, he said.

The recreation district is funded by a 3.78-mil tax, the same tax that was renewed May 1.

In the past, recreation officials have said the funds generated by the tax will be split between the yearly operational costs of the recreation district and paying the USDA note for the new facility, and that — if all goes well — the new facility can be paid off in 22 years.

Plans for the new recreation complex include baseball and softball complexes with four fields each, tennis courts, soccer fields and basketball courts.

The new recreation facility will be located adjacent to the new Vidalia municipal complex, which Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said will have a play park for small children on its grounds.