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Cypress Lake to host pier for student enjoyment, up-close swamp viewing

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Floating booms surround the partially completed pier in Cypress Lake on June 6, 2019. This construction will add features such as pergolas and a pier.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is building a pier leading to the center of Cypress Lake.

The pier will allow students, faculty and visitors to get a much closer look at the wildlife that call the lake home. According to Scott Hebert, Director of Facility Planning and Construction at UL Lafayette, the pier is expected to be finished this September.

“It’s created a unique landmark for us which is great for marketing,” Hebert said. “The improvements around it have really started to kind of emphasize the lake and celebrate the lake.”

Hebert said the university is also constructing pergolas in the Cypress Lake Plaza in addition to the pier.

A pergola is an archway commonly found at parks and gardens.

“The ones we are doing right here are going to be made of some powder coated steel that are going to match the accents of the student union,” Hebert said, “so you are going to have this nice structure that you can sit under. It gives you a picturesque area to take pictures, have a little music venue or outdoor concert or whatever it is you want to do.”

Hebert said the university is hoping to make the plaza a gathering place for students and faculty similar to the quad that would also bring more people to the swamp.

“The intention was to try and get some sort of feature that would get you into the lake and engaged more with the lake activity out there,” Hebert said. “Like I said, the alligators are a major attraction for our university. It puts us on the map. Nobody else has that, so it’s a neat little feature to get you right in the middle of it.”

The process has been relatively painless according to Hebert.

“It’s construction, so there’s always going to be something going on there that you’re not expecting, but overall it really has been a pretty smooth running project,” Hebert said. “There are just a couple of difficulties that we always have to maneuver around or get over, especially when you are working on a body of water. You can’t just walk up to it and start working like you could if it was on the side of the road.”

The project was funded by the Master Plan student fee.

Michael Cortello, a fourth-year film major at UL Lafayette, said he was excited about the pier — so long as it’s safe from alligators.

“It would be cool to walk in the middle of that and get a better look at them, but I hope it’s safe more than anything. The last thing I want is an alligator coming up on the dock and … y’know,” Cortello said.

General studies senior Ravene Garrett also felt safety for both those using the pier and the wildlife in the lake should be a top priority for the university.

“I just want them to make sure both parties are safe,” Garrett said.

Hebert said the pier will have a “double-rail system” in place that will prevent alligators from getting onto the pier and harming visitors.

Hebert added he is happy with the project was proud to be a part of it.

“It’s really an honor to be a part of a project like this,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be a Ragin’ Cajun right now.”

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