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City Park Lakes restoration project to resume in September following funding, pandemic-related delays

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BATON ROUGE- Plans to rehabilitate the algae-covered City Park Lakes are being executed at last after funding and pandemic-related delays have pushed the project back for nearly five years.

The lakes near LSU are a popular spot in the capital area for those looking to get active, get social, or get outdoors. 

Especially after months-long closures and quarantining, many are flocking to the once scenic spot, but only to be disappointed by the view.

The long-awaited task to clear the lakes of algae blooms dates back to 2016, but funding was not available at the time of the initial proposal.

Governor John Bel Edwards announced the master plan in November of 2019, stating the price tag was a bit out of range back in phase one of the plan.

The project includes dredging all six lakes, building a bridge at May Street, and adding additional sidewalks and bike paths around the area. 

The completed venture would come to about $50 million dollars, but quite a few funding sources have stepped up to the plate. The governor says LSU, the LSU Athletic Foundation, DOTD, the city, BREC, and miscellaneous grants will get the job done.

"This is going to be a special place that I think all Louisianians can be very, very proud of. It's going to be very beautiful and our pelicans can have a better time stopping off on their journey," Edwards said about the plan in November of 2019.

In an effort to fight the rampant algae, BREC released carp into the lakes in December of 2019. Spokesperson Cheryl Michelet said it would take roughly six months to have a noticeable impact. The efforts were intended to keep the lakes healthy before the water was dredged during the restoration in the spring of 2020, but because of COVID-19, that was postponed. 

In May of 2020, BREC performed a series of herbicide treatments to take care of the algae, which was held off as a last resort solution. That chemical treatment cost around $11,000 to complete. 

The project will resume in phases beginning in September, officials announced on Friday, Aug. 14. 

"The big impact with COVID-19 was at the state level with a significant impact of the state budget," Rob Stuart with the LSU Real Estate and Facilities Foundation said.

A community development block grant will provide LSU with 30% of the funds.

Dredging is expected to begin in 2021, which should add depth and reshape all six lakes. Stuart says this should also add more space for bike paths and sidewalks.

"The whole design is for better drainage, make the lakes bigger, more supportive of marine life, and also to get rid of the algae," Stuart said.

Phase one of the project will focus on design, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.


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