What is the Foundation doing?

The Foundation raised $750,000 to pay for a master plan for the Baton Rouge Lakes. The Foundation's civic leadership projects division managed the master plan. The next step is construction drawings and securing financing for implementation.

Is the Foundation paying for implementing the plan?

We are not. But the master plan will identify funding sources for implementation, both for the dredging and shoreline improvements.

Who is paying for the master plan?

The money for the master plan was contributed by our donors, private foundations and philanthropists.

What IS included in the master plan?

The master plan recommends shoreline amenities to be built from dredged materials, such as multi-use trails and boating facilities. The final report will  provide a landscaping plan, recommendations for signage, improvements for traffic circulation, mitigation of noise and pollution from the interstate, designs for gateways and more. It also will list funding sources for implementation and a governance model to ensure the long-term upkeep of all the lakes. 

What is the timeline for the project?

The master plan was launched in spring 2014. Fifteen teams led by landscape architects replied to a request for proposals; a selection committee comprised of stakeholders chose four finalists. The finalists presented in an open meeting at the Manship Theatre on June 30 and the winning firm, SWA Group, was picked by the selection committee on that day. In association with Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects, SWA delivered the master plan in July 2015. The company is writing a final report. 

Who is partnering on the project?

Our collaborators include LSU and the city-parish, which own the lakes, and BREC, which operates the adjacent City Park and the Milford Wampold Memorial Park on University Lake, as well as underwriters of this project. Civic associations representing the area are on our steering committee, as are representatives of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Louisiana Department of Transportation, among many others.

Why are you taking on the lakes as a planning project?

The lakes are an asset to Baton Rouge, a symbol of our city, and a gathering place where all in the community can enjoy themselves. But the lakes are in bad shape. They were swamps once, and will be again if nothing is done to restore and enhance them.

Why are the lakes turning to swamp?

Runoff from the surrounding area is descending to the bottom of the lakes and making them a little shallower each day. On average, the lakes average about three feet in depth. City Park Lake and Erie Lake – the one shaped like a horseshoe – are the most imperiled.

How deep are the lakes?

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a healthy lake averages at least five feet in depth. Engineering firm GEC Inc., which is working on the lakes project, found the following average depths for the six lakes: University Lake, the largest, 4.1 feet; City Park 2.9; Erie Lake, which is shaped like a horseshoe and connected to City Park Lake, 2.4 feet. Crest Lake, located on Dalrymple across from University Lake, is 4.8; Campus Lake, on LSU’s campus behind a string of dorms, is 4.8; and College Lake, which is next to campus, is 6.5. 

Why do we need a master plan?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hired GEC Inc. to produce an ecosystem restoration plan for the troubled lakes in 2008. That plan recommends deepening the lakes and installing tubes for flushing the lakes, keeping them rich with oxygen for more than five decades. The master plan is building on the Corps report, seeking ideas from residents on deploying dredged materials to build improvements, such as trails around the lake. When this work is completed, the lakes project will be ready for implementation.

Is there anyone else working on the master plan?

Suzanne Turner Associates donated its services to provide a history of the lakes so their story can inform the master plan. Ms. Turner was a board member of the Foundation, was a professor of landscape architecture at LSU, and owns a landscape architecture firm based in our city. GEC Inc. was hired to provide engineering work, including a survey of lake depths and an analysis of soil to determine how it can and can’t be used in building shoreline improvements. Based in Baton Rouge, GEC wrote a 2008 report on ecosystem restoration of the lakes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.