Visitors excited by plans to save, revitalize University Lakes

Visitors excited by plans to save, revitalize University Lakes
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POSTED: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 4:04am

The University Lakes have been around for almost 80 years, and there is a plan to keep them around for at least 80 more.

That comes as great news to the many people who frequent the chain of lakes between LSU and City Park.

"Once a week, we're out here," Sarah Clemmons said.

"Yeah, almost every other day," Claire Olivier stated.

There is often a crowd around the University Lakes. Runners, bicyclists, picnickers, sunbathers, and fishermen easily share the space, especially on sunny days during the school year.

"I mean, it's just a pretty view while you're working out," Olivier mentioned. "And so convenient cause it's a trail."

"It's right next to campus," added her friend and fellow LSU freshman Lauren Caillouet. "You just walk right out of your dorm and walk over to the lakes."

The lakes were created from swampland in the 1930s, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's plan to put Americans to work on public projects during the Great Depression.

"It's got so much history, as far as Baton Rouge goes," Clemmons noted. "The lakes, everyone's ran the lakes; or Spanish Town, with the flamingoes and everything. It's a big Baton Rouge tradition."

But sediment slowly fills the lakes during every rain storm, putting them on the verge of becoming swamp once again. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation announced that it has raised enough money for a master plan to dredge the lakes and use the displaced soil to make improvements.

People already have ideas of what they want.

"I would like to see a boat launch so we could wakeboard in here," James Dixon said. "That would be pretty sweet."

"Wakeboarding?" Clemmons replied. "I don't think we're going to wakeboard. But it would be nice if they had the paddleboat rentals like they have in City Park in New Orleans. That would be nice."

"Maybe wider paths, I guess," Caillouet said. "Because even the streets over there, they're so narrow that people sometimes run into each other."

But what they want most of all is for the lakes to remain lakes.

"We both have kids," Dixon said of he and Clemmons, "and the thought of us being able to enjoy something that our kids won't be able to, is just horrible."

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation says it will hire an engineering firm and landscape architects first, to create the master plan. Construction would probably not begin until 2015.

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