The City Council at its May meeting authorized Mayor Rusty Moody to sign a 99-year lease with the owner of 12 acres on which an overflow valve at the lake sits.
The Louisiana Wildlife Foundation, according to former city attorney Jacque Pucheu, requires such a long term lease for improvements it participates in.
The Foundation, in collaboration with U.S. Dist. Judge Richard Haik, proposes to use a considerable sum remaining from the 2000 derailment lawsuit settlement to overhaul the lake.
Ruth Manuel owns the 12 acres in question. Another 12 or so which the city would like to lease or sell is tied up in an estate matter.
Pucheu said Kell McGinnis, foundation executive director, had indicated the project could under way soon once the lease was in place.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries first approached the council in the summer of 2008 about renovating the 45-year-old lake.
But Hurricanes Gustave and Ike and other events pushed the project down the state’s priority list.
Months later, LDWF began looking at the project anew.
The proposed project is an extensive makeover, including draining of the lake, dredging, a new control structure and fishing piers.
The Wildlife Foundation is a non-profit public, charitable foundation formed to provide a means for individuals and corporations to become partners with the Department and Commission in the challenge of conserving Louisiana’s wildlife and fish resources.
The goals of the Foundation include habitat conservation, environmental education and training, natural resource research and management, and general financial assistance to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries programs and projects, such that it may better serve the public.
In the past the Foundation has used dedicated contributions for hunter education, Wood Duck preservation projects, wildlife management areas, improvements for both rural and urban locations, marine fisheries research, Louisiana black bear projects, fish hatchery research, quail management, teacher and public education programs, wetlands mitigation and National Hunting and Fishing Day events.