UNC Charlotte lake now a special spot

Heck Lake has fountain, walking path, benches

12/22/2012 12:00 AM

12/20/2012 12:22 PM

UNC Charlotte students now have a new recreation destination.

UNC Charlotte’s Hechenbleikner Lake just got a makeover, and UNCC officials are excited that the lake will now be picturesque and pedestrian-friendly.

“I think it’s turned out super,” said Jeff Ross, a UNCC architectural and civil designer. “There are people out there taking breaks, and eating their lunch, and sitting and reading. It’s being utilized already, without water in it.”

The lake, nicknamed Heck Lake, is near the main entrance of the university, between Broadrick Boulevard and University Road.

After some recent rain, there is some water in the bottom of the man-made, 2-acre lake, but the university is going to wait for Mother Nature to fill the rest of it. Ross said he expects the lake to be full in the next six to eight months, and that the start of the rainy season in February or March should help.

The lake was drained 2 1/2 years ago after an overflow pipe under the dam near the lake collapsed.

“The piping of that water was dislodging sections of the downstream bank, which then undermined the existing sidewalk,” Ross said.

After teams discovered that there weren’t any safety issues on the surrounding roads because of the malfunction, Campus Landscape Architect Peter Franz decided it was time to make the lake a campus destination.

“The lake itself has always been a prominent feature to visitors who come to campus,” Franz said. “Over the years, it was left as it was from the day it was constructed, and the campus sort of grew up around it. ... It really didn’t provide access to an amenity on the campus – people couldn’t get to the edge and enjoy the water close-up.”

Crews made improvements on 5 acres of land – including the lake – for a project that cost about $1.2 million, Ross said. A fountain has been installed in the lake to keep the water aerated.

There are new retaining walls, landscaping, a surrounding sidewalk path, benches and more lighting. Because the lake is next to the Rowe Arts Building, a platform extends over the body of water, which will eventually showcase student sculptures, Franz said.

“The idea is that the students would essentially compete, or submit designs, to be placed on this platform on the edge of the water,” he said.

Cindy Bonilla, a 21-year-old photography student, said she worried the lake construction wouldn’t be finished before she graduated.

Bonilla, who spends a lot of time in the Rowe Arts Building, said she thinks the lake area looks much better than the deserted, drained basin it’s been for the past couple of years.

Though chilly weather and exams have made the lake a quiet place of late, Bonilla said, she’s looking forward to taking advantage of the lake next semester.

“I’m really happy with it,” she said. “I’m excited for when spring comes so we can hang out here when we need to take a break from work.”

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