You proved my point — there’s no one way to say why people love Balboa Park, and there’s no easy consensus on what revitalization project it most needs. We surveyed a few key people last week about their favorite perches and their top projects in Balboa Park, and many of you chimed in with your own picks. Here are a few.

Carrie Schneider:

What is your favorite place/time in Balboa Park?

My favorite place is the beautiful starry theater in the Museum of Photographic Arts. I wish they had funds to bring back a film curator to show movies on a regular basis, because now it’s hardly ever open.

What project would you pick next?

Reclaim the Arizona landfill. It’s an eyesore that I pass every day on the way to work, but it could expand the natural area in Florida Canyon greatly. Also, let’s implement the plan and close Florida Drive, at least on the weekends so people can enjoy Florida Canyon’s trails without the noise of cars.

Michael Jenkins:

What is your favorite place/time in Balboa Park?

I’m typically in Balboa Park three times a week or more, as a destination to meet other cyclists, as a place to ride off-road trails, and watching the fixed-gear racers at the velodrome in Morley Field. The velodrome, or bicycle racing track, is my favorite place in Balboa Park, and the place that most desperately needs TLC. Even though San Diego seems to have an anti-bike attitude, it’s a hot-bed of bicycling. And one important part of cycling culture here is the velodrome.

What project would you pick next?

What the velodrome needs first and foremost is a re-surfacing. It’s been patched up over many years, but the cracks and potholes are nearly as bad as the city’s streets. It also needs a canopy over the infield, access to drinking water and regular routine maintenance. The city government has outsourced all these obligations to a nonprofit group of hard working volunteers, and while they do a good job of running events, they simply cannot come up with the dollars to cover the cost of many years of deferred maintenance.

How much would that cost and how would you pay for it?

Probably under a million dollars. How about selling the naming rights to a company interested in the sport of bicycling? But the city also needs to put a line item in its annual budget for routine maintenance, probably somewhere in the range of $50,000 a year. Not a big cost given the velodrome’s heavy use.

Ben Clay, volunteer co-chairman of committee planning the park’s 2015 celebration:

What is your favorite place/time in Balboa Park?

The Prado from the Plaza de Panama east towards the Natural History Museum. I love that feel, that walk through there with those buildings and the trees.

What project would you pick next?

When we’re done with 2015, we need to worry about fixing the infrastructure of the park. You know, water lines, sewer lines, electricity so that the park can live the next 100 years and have the infrastructure to support it.

How much would that cost and how would you pay for it?

I think if we do our job right and show the people of San Diego what a treasure this is — they know it already — but if we point out some of the concerns we have with the infrastructure, maybe at some point in the future the folks in this region would vote to support a bond effort to repair some of the things and enhance some of the infrastructure that needs to go into the place.

That’s just one guy’s view. Always hard to get bonds through; I understand that. But we have a jewel of a house that needs to have the plumbing fixed, the electricity fixed, the water lines fixed, the internet service and all the rest of it upgraded at some point in time.

Debbie O’Toole:

What is your favorite place/time in Balboa Park?

My grandmother had a studio in Spanish Village for many years. I would spend a lot of time exploring the artist galleries and the Gem and Mineral building. We would have lunch over at the zoo and she would paint the animals with a tiny watercolor set (1″x2″), which I have passed on to my artist daughter. I would also climb the giant fig tree across the lane. It’s sad my own kids don’t have that opportunity.

What project would you pick next?

I would make certain the buildings in Spanish Village are maintained and kept as original as possible.

How much would that cost and how would you pay for it?

Perhaps rent covers the cost.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Christine Kehoe, state senator:

What is your favorite place/time in Balboa Park?

My favorite place in Balboa Park in recent years is the lawn along Upas Street between Alabama and Arnold Avenue. It’s a perfect walk from my house. My partner and I do it all the time, mostly in the morning. Rain or shine any time of day it is un-crowded and peaceful (unless there is a track meet) and there are many of my neighbors who also take this walk or walk their dogs there. There is hardly a place in Balboa Park that I don’t love, but I would say that this is a special place for me.

What project would you pick next? How much would that cost and how would you pay for it?

As far as overhauling, fixing or maintaining any square inch of Balboa Park, let’s just agree that there are probably 50 years of maintenance backlog that need attention. All it takes is money — TOT (hotel-room taxes), anyone?

A few other favorite spots came in, too. Reader Bob Holt likes the formal garden behind the original naval hospital building that now houses park staff. “If you could screen the awful view that you get of the present hospital — and get rid of the maintenance yard behind it — you could easily imagine wounded sailors being pushed around those walkways by beautiful nurses,” he wrote. “And you could, then, understand why that piece of the park is called Inspiration Point!”

Kevin Flynn added a vote for Florida Canyon:

It is my favorite place because it is one of the few places in the park- and the city of San Diego- that remains in its NATURAL state. I would love to see Florida Street CLOSED DOWN, and that stretch of road pulled up and allowed to return to its natural state, so the entire canyon is allowed to regenerate.

Joe Silverman’s been part of Balboa Park committees and said his favorite parts are the recreation facilities. “I stress that because many people do not view Balboa Park as a public park in the traditional sense, and some tend to think of it as an “attraction” like Disneyland,” he wrote. “If I had to choose only one of the many BP recreational venues, I’d select the BP Activity Center… even though it houses the Science Fair, the Thursday Club rummage sale, and special events unrelated to recreation.”

Read eight more responses and your fellow readers’ takes in our original post.

And please, join in! Leave us a note below. Remember, list four things — your favorite spot, the project you think should be tackled next, how much it’d cost and how you’d pay for it.

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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