BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Organizers unveiled new updated plans for the LSU and City Lakes at a public forum on Thursday. The plans put great emphasis on nature and the environment around the lakes.
For example, as part of the new plans, enhancements would be made to the LSU bird sanctuary, including new pathways and viewing platforms. New wetlands and plants along the lake basin would help improve water quality.
The plans also include connecting two of the larger lakes, the University Lake and City Park Lake. The May Street Park would have to be redesigned as part of that effort.
More than 300 people attended the event held by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which is spearheading the improvement project.
John Spain, executive vice president of BRAF, said that while cosmetic changes are nice, the most important part of the project is improving the health of the lakes.
"The lakes are the crown jewels of Baton Rouge. No one does not want them to be fixed," he said. "If we don't do something, they will revert back to what it was a cypress swamp."
One of the primary goals is dredging. Over time, muck and silt have begun to accumulate at the bottom of the lakes. As a result, the lakes are now only two feet deep in some areas.
"Two feet means that they are in decline," Spain said. "They will not support fish. They will eventually not support the habitat for birds, so it is important that we have a program with the funding to intervene before we get to that place."
The material dredged from the lake bottom would then be used to create new paths on the shoreline.
Dredging and other preliminary improvements, such as new pathways, would cost approximately $40 million. Other features, including a small beach, bandstand and boat house for the LSU crew team, would add to that total cost.
So far, BRAF has been offered $13 million by the state. They will begin extensive fundraising efforts soon.
BRAF leaders said they will submit construction documents within a year and some of the improvements could become a reality by 2018.