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Funding for municipal complex OK’d

VIDALIA — With the approval of funding, the way has been cleared for the City of Vidalia to start construction of its new municipal complex this fall.

The city received funding approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a $6.9 million loan to be paid back over 40 years at a rate of 4 percent interest, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

“We are going to be meeting with the USDA director Wednesday night to go over the project,” he said.

“We hope to start construction — by that I mean infrastructure work — by late October or November.”

While the city has gotten approval for the $6.9 million loan, the actual cost of the project will be determined by contractor bids, Copeland said.

“It’s not necessarily going to cost that much, that is just how much (money) will be approved,” he said.

The mayor said the loan will be repaid directly from the city’s general fund.

“We have had an increase in sales tax (revenue), and we have had enough of an increase through the years to (pay it from the general fund),” he said.

The project is currently in the bidding stage, and Copeland said the city especially wants local contractors and subcontractors to be involved in what he said is expected to be a 12-14 month project.

The municipal complex will include a new City Hall, police station and fire station.

“We are also still trying to acquire grants for our police station and fire station,” Copeland said. “There are grants available for fire stations and we hope to be able to acquire a ladder truck through the grant process.”

Having a ladder truck and keeping the current fire station as a substation could help lower the city’s fire rating, resulting in lower homeowner’s insurance costs, Copeland said.

In addition to the new buildings, plans for the municipal complex include building a new city park adjacent to it.

The park, which will include a new high school baseball and softball field, will be built using donations, Copeland said.

“We are seeking and have received donations from the private sector,” he said. “That is something we will all be proud of, to be able to bring state and local tournaments to the area in (the park’s) coexistence with the new recreation complex.”

The municipal complex and its park will be adjacent to the new Recreation District No. 3 development on U.S. 84, which is currently in the pre-construction phase.

“We feel like this will be one of the best complexes not only in Louisiana but in the tri-state area,” Copeland said.