City adopts revised master plan

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

VIDALIA — The City of Vidalia wants to keep growing, but it doesn’t want to get too big for its favorite pair of worn-in britches.

OK, they said it more eloquently in the vision statement approved at Tuesday night’s board of aldermen meeting, but the message is the same.

Ken Juneau, vice president of le Triomphe Property Group based in Baton Rouge, presented the plan to aldermen and community members.

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Juneau said a recent “Vidalia Vision” meeting of city leaders and residents, was well attended, and the master revitalization plan was documented with input from multiple groups.

“The last plan you had was in the 1970s,” Juneau said. “It’s time for a plan that will guide us into the 21st Century.”

Meeting participants’ vision statements were melded into one vision statement that says, “Establish continued smart growth that brings life, energy and people back to the river. Develop Vidalia into a desirable place to live; an intelligent community large enough to sustain generations, while never sacrificing the small town feel and values that allow our citizens to simply enjoy life.”

Juneau said if the initiative passed, it would mean Vidalia could continue to grow into an intelligent community and technology-driven society while still maintaining the small-town feel.

Juneau said Vidalia has more to offer than residents might realize. He cited location, low energy costs, great schools, leadership, parks and recreation, a low crime rate and more, showing Vidalia is poised to grow.

“As an outsider coming in — y’all have a lot going for you,” Juneau said.

The developer also said projects undertaken by Vidalia are impressive for a city of only 5,000, and the rate of economic development should attract more businesses.

“A lot of communities talk a lot,” Juneau said. “But here, you can point to what you have accomplished. You are no longer walking, but running, to those objectives.”

Juneau emphasized that the revitalization plan is only a concept right now.

“It will not be accomplished in one or two years,” he said. “We’re talking five, 10 or 15 years to focus on development and planning. You need a flexible document like this because a lot will change, and the plan must be flexible.”

Juneau pointed out potential improvements to the city in the master revitalization plan, like improving Carter Street, creating unique landscapes and possibly developing a few new streets.

He said the Vidalia Riverfront is an impressive accomplishment, as are the lengths the city went through to save it in May’s Mississippi River flood.

“What a fabulous facility,” he said. “What you did to protect businesses (from floodwaters) on the waterfront show the city is interested in taking care of its structures. This city fought the water and won.”

Mayor Hyram Copeland said he is excited for what the future holds.

“The end result will be that we have something to sell and show,” Copeland said.

The board adopted the revitalization master plan initiative.

In other news:

• Two bids were submitted to clean up the Vidalia Riverfront. Womack and Sons Construction Group bid $541,846.03 to clean up the Riverfront, and Dozer LLC bid $690,000. The mayor said he will take the bids under advisement and award the bid soon.

He said the cleanup process will begin Monday with the removal of Hesco baskets.

• A motion was passed to instate rules to regulate the amount of time political signs can be displayed prior to and after elections. Copeland said in the previous meeting that an appropriate timeframe for signs to be displayed is 60 days before elections and 10 days after elections.

• Applications were signed for businesses to set up in the city limits including the farmer’s market, Community Loans/Cash Cow, and for new owners to make changes at River Road Estates.