The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is in the process of creating a master plan for improvements to the LSU and City Parks lakes, BRAF executive vice president John Spain told the LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday. The plan will take between nine and 12 months to complete.
There are several routes the project can take to improve the quality of the lakes, Spain said, which have been in decline for years. There is debate among planners about whether the lakes should be dredged or drained to increase lake depth and alleviate other issues. On average, the lakes are only two and a half feet deep, Spain said.
Completely draining and refilling the lakes would be a two-year process, which would be devastating to student recruitment and retention, said LSU President F. King Alexander. He said draining should be a last resort.
The project may also include a variety of amenities, such as improved lighting, walking paths and bike trails.
"We want to get at least 50 years of life out of it before we have to do something else and find ways to make it more attractive," Spain said.
Although walkers, joggers and bikers frequent the area, Spain said there are currently no dedicated paths for those activities, causing people to end up exercising in roadways. It is possible that the project will move silt from the lakes and build new land for paths, he said.
The lakes and the land around them are owned by both the city-parish and LSU, but Spain said BRAF will pay for making the master plan. The price tag is likely to be between $750,000 and $1 million.
Spain expects the project itself will cost between $20 million and $30 million. Someone must come up with those funds, so "it's not going to happen very quickly," he said.
Also at the board meeting:
— Chairman Bobby Yarborough and LSU President F. King Alexander presented former SG President John Woodard a resolution of appreciation for his service. Friday was Woodard's last meeting as student member of the Board of Supervisors. Another student cannot hold that position for two years.
— The board approved naming history professor Suzanne Marchand a Boyd professor, which is the highest honor an LSU faculty member can receive. Marchand is the fourth female Boyd professor in LSU history, and the first since 1997.
— The board heard a report from Tammy Dugas, pharmacology professor at LSU Health Science Center-Shreveport, about the need for introducing tuition benefits for faculty. SEC schools are behind the rest of the nation, and within the SEC, LSU is the second-worst, Dugas said. Tuition benefits would give faculty allowances to attend classes at LSU campuses. Dugas told the board this could improve faculty recruitment and potentially have economic benefits.