Vidalia begins work on technology center construction
Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 21, 2016
VIDALIA — The City of Vidalia began this week work on the building that will replace its former City Hall location.
The new building, located on North Spruce Street, will serve as a technology center and will ultimately house the city’s information technology office and utility metering department.
It will also serve as a business incubator for technology-focused businesses, and is meant to increase and support local entrepreneurs, Concordia Parish Economic Development Director Heather Malone said.
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The project is being funded in part by a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration that requires a 40-percent match in local funds. The contract for the project was awarded to Wilmar Construction for $1.22 million.
The building is a part of the larger Vidalia Broadband Initiative, a project under way for several years that has largely been completed out of the public view.
Previous phases of the project have included installing fiber cable infrastructure under the Mississippi River bridge and down Carter Street and installing Wi-Fi on the Vidalia Riverfront and in the municipal and adjacent recreation complex on the western side of town.
The ultimate goal of the initiative is to provide the infrastructure that will allow Internet access speeds of 1-gigabit per second to businesses and industries in the area as well as residents.
“This building will showcase the Broadband Initiative, the city’s commitment to technology and entrepreneurship as well as highlighting the city’s newly adopted building codes,” Malone said.
Vidalia Information Technology Director Bobby Paul said the 6,300-square foot building would include 2,000-square feet for the fiber optic technology infrastructure.
The business incubator area will have two offices for administrative people and between 16 and 20 cubicles, a conference room and computer and business machine access, he said.
In its capacity housing utility metering, the building will allow the city to remotely read and even turn on and off water and power. Residents will also be able to monitor their utility usage in real time.
“Eventually, it will all tie into our utility grid, and that will allow us to use smart grid technology and see problems and correct them before they become a problem for the end users of the utility system,” Paul said.
Mayor Hyram Copeland said he hopes the new building will serve as a “welcoming feature” for people crossing the Mississippi River bridge into Vidalia, and, “We hope the updated design will make all of our residents proud to call Vidalia home.”
The former City Hall was demolished in late 2014, two-and-a-half years after the city government moved into its new home on U.S. 84 on the western side of town.
The new municipal complex — which included larger, more spacious police and fire department buildings — was built after city officials said a chronic mold infestation in the old city hall, a former bank building that had been converted to government use, was too onerous to remove and replacement of the entire building would ultimately be cheaper.
Editor’s Note: This story as originally published contained incorrect information. The goal of the broadband project is to deliver Internet service at a speed of 1 gigabit per second. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.