BREC intends to pursue a funding agreement to help jumpstart the dormant City Park and LSU Lakes project, as the Baton Rouge Area Foundation requested last fall, but the parks department can’t fund the project alone.
“We’d like to see more people at the table with us,” says BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson. “It’s not just a BREC thing.”
The parks and rec department—which controls two of the six lakes—hasn’t determined an amount it’s willing to put up yet, which will require board approval. But BREC, says Wilson, is currently working out details of an agreement to bring before the board.
In October, BRAF asked the parks department to put up $5 million to jumpstart the effort to dredge and beautify the lakes. The amount would cover a fraction of the total project, as an estimated $25 million is needed to dredge all six lakes, not including other planned enhancements.
BREC officials agree the agency owes it to the public to improve to the lakes, Wilson says, as Wampold Beach is one of its “most-used assets.”
“We need to do it and we will do,” he says. “As far as when and how, we’re still working with BRAF on that.”
BREC also will need partners at the table to help fund the initiative, Wilson says, adding the BRAF is getting close to securing additional sources. BREC officials did not identify specific sources, but say potential funding could come from the state, federal grants or philanthropic efforts.
BRAF could not be reached for comment as of this afternoon’s deadline.
“We’re very much in favor of seeing the vision of the lakes master plan move forward and we’re ready to step up,” says BREC Assistant Superintendent Reed Richard, “but we want to make sure others are at the table with us.”
In 2015, a $40 million master plan for the lakes project was unveiled, but little progress has been made since then due to lack of funding. Researchers have said for years that if nothing is done to rehabilitate the lakes, they gradually will revert into cypress swamps.