Seems I’m hardly alone in pondering about Balboa Park and its infrastructure. Carolyn Chase was kind enough to point me in the direction of this commentary, published this week in the San Diego Business Journal. In that piece, scholar and public policy expert John Eger says Balboa Park could be the key to San Diego’s economic sustainability. He writes:

It is becoming increasingly apparent that initiatives that promote education and infrastructure, and in the process more regional livable places with strong and vibrant innovation and creative clusters, will be the hallmarks of the most successful 21st century cities and regions.

We have talked about the future of the park almost as long as we’ve debated the need for a new airport or downtown library.

The solution, Eger writes, is:

A strong mayor, together with the advice and support of the Centre City Development Corp., the Arts and Culture Commission, and park leadership, need to create a compelling vision and plan for the park now; and indeed of all our region’s cultural assets; and find a way to link them through modern and efficient public transit to make them the centerpiece of the region.

Nearly a century old, Balboa Park, no doubt, presents a daunting challenge in bringing it up to modern-day standards for infrastructure. Never mind the various entities within the park with their own plans and ambitions for the future. The San Diego Zoo, for instance, would like to reconfigure the parking on the land it leases, making room for more animal habitats. Known as the Park Boulevard Promenade Project, the concept calls for a parking structure and public transit center. The Zoological Society of San Diego is working to ensure its plans fit into the city’s overall parking and access scheme for Balboa Park.

How can Balboa Park be preserved, while still allowing for modernization? Can you please everyone — the zoo, the museums, the restaurants, city officials, the taxpayers, the patrons?

JENNIFER McENTEE

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