HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi's most popular landmark, Lake Byron was completed in 1934, but after 80 years of history, the lake is now undergoing a major transformation.
"As many know, Lake Byron took a hit during the tornado of last year so it's part of our landscaping upgrade and our campus restoration project," said Assistant Vice President for facilities Management and Planning, Dr. Chris Crenshaw.
Much thought and planning has gone into preserving the historic look of the old structure. Phase III of the university's restoration project will make the lake more accessible and more appealing.
"The upgrades include a new bridge which will meet our new ADA codes so we're excited about that," said Dr. Crenshaw. "Also, we will be expanding the pond just a little bit; we'll have some aquatic education areas where our biology department will be doing some research."
The upgrades will not only benefit the university but Hattiesburg and the surrounding community as well.
"We're also expanding it to help with the storm water management," he said. "That will help I guess a water flow basically south of Hardy during storms or torrential rain."
In addition, an honor wall is also being built along the lake.
"It's part of our way of saying thanks to our community and our donors for our campus restoration project, we couldn't do any of this if it wasn't for their generosity," said Dr. Crenshaw.
There are five phases in the university's Front Campus Landscape Restoration and Enhancement Plan. Crenshaw said after phase III is completed, the university will move to the District phase and the Marsh Hall/West Hardy phase.
"It's over a million dollars to do the entire restoration project," said Dr. Crenshaw. "If it were not for the generosity of so many who have given to the university for this, insurance only covered about five thousand of that so we're real fortunate to be able to progress and get this much work done."
Additional upgrades include:
- An aerating fountain added to provide oxygen to the lake.
- Additional LED ground lighting positioned along the sidewalks.
- Selected tree species, most native to Mississippi, planted around the lake to create an arboretum effect.
Dr. Crenshaw said Lake Byron should be completed by early summer.