Balboa Park / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

This post originally appeared in the July 16 Morning Report. Get the Morning Report delivered to your inbox.

The newly merged Balboa Park Conservancy and Friends of Balboa Park now have a new name: Forever Balboa Park.

The combined boards of what had been the park’s two largest philanthropic groups voted Thursday afternoon to rename themselves two weeks after officially joining forces. The two groups began exploring the merger last year after years of calls from park stakeholders for a clear leader that could guide how to attack the park’s many needs, including its crumbling facilities.

Now, a decade after the conservancy was founded to fulfill that leadership role, board co-chair Connie Matsui told Voice of San Diego that Forever Balboa Park has begun talks with the city about a more formal partnership.

“We are in preliminary discussions with the city about what our formal relationship could and will look like,” Matsui wrote in a statement. “The goal is to formalize a public-private partnership that best serves Balboa Park, and we look forward to getting that in place soon.”

The city and the conservancy in recent years partnered on a handful of permits to execute park projects and programs. The Friends of Balboa Park also teamed with the city on a number of projects.

Mayor Todd Gloria said after the merger was announced last year that he supported the previously etched out Conservancy model – and that he thought a merger would make achieving that vision more feasible.

Whether Forever Balboa Park is deemed qualified to take on more overarching park responsibilities will likely rest on factors including its future executive.

The group announced Thursday that it has hired a national search firm to find its leader and said it expects to hire an executive in early 2022 after establishing strategic priorities for the new organization.

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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