Balboa Park History 1986
January 5, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3, B-6.
Zoo’s people pleased to have James Bacon, Jr. in charge, by Gina Lubrano.
This month, James L. Bacon, Jr. of North Park changed his routine.
Instead of running through Balboa Park between 6:30 and 7 each morning, he takes a stroll through the San Diego Zoo.
As the new general manager at the Zoo, he was instructed by his book to be a “hands-on-manager,” to be “someone whose shoes are muddy.”
During his strolls, Bacon talks to employees, checks progress on construction projects, notes what needs to be done and keeps in touch with employees who tend the animals and plants as well as those who take care of the visitors.
“The Zoo starts early,” he explained. “If I’m going to manage quality time as general manager and curator of herpetology, I’m going to have to start earlier.”
Zoo employees are pleased to have a man directing operations who has a lifelong interest in animals.
“It’s progressive in that line,” said Art Goodrich, a senior hoofstock keeper and president of the local chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. “For the most part, people came here to see the animals in their natural behavior.
“We have a person who understands those things, finally. Personally, I think it’s a movement upward.”
Bacon, 46, was named last month as general manager — the top job at the Zoo — to replace Terry A. Winnick, whose resignation was announced simultaneously with Bacon’s appointment.
Winnick had come to the Zoo in 1982 from MCA, parent company of Universal Studio Tours, with a background in outdoor recreation. He was criticized by some employees when, under his management, the Zoo booked concerts that have since been discontinued, and brought in a short-lived animal show that they felt was not up to Zoo standards for emphasizing natural behavior.
“We realize we need to have some type of activities that bring in money, but most of us are more comfortable with an animal person,” said tour guide Charles Gifford, chief steward for Teamsters Local 481, which represents more than 700 of the Zoo’s 1,000 employees.
Winnick, who will stay until at least the end of the month and then become a consultant, defends his tenure at the Zoo. He said some newspaper reports have made it appear “we were concentrating on the wrong things.”
The welfare of animals has always been foremost, he said, adding, “We have taken some things the Zoo was doing and hopefully we have made them a little better.”
Winnick said his ideas resulted in the Diamond Edge plan, a five-year outline that ultimately will change the face of the Zoo. Bacon worked as strategic planning coordinator for the project.
Douglas Myers, executive director of the Zoological Society of San Diego, said it was Bacon’s work on the long-range plan that made him a prime candidate for the general manager’s job.
“Jim was the No. 1 candidate,” Myers said. “Once I looked on the inside (for a general manager), I didn’t have to go outside.”
Bacon , he said, is a “very organized person. He has great follow-through. His longevity at the Zoo gives him a historical advantage. Because we are going to rebuild the entire Zoo, his biology background will be of great assistance.”
Betty Jo Williams, president of the society board of trustees, also praised Bacon for his work on the plan, saying, “He did an excellent job there. He is an excellent facilitator and communicator and carried out his task with great aplomb.”
Bacon, who holds a doctorate degree in biology from the University of Chicago, joined the Zoo staff in 1975, after seven years teaching biology at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
“What’s fun about all this is the general manager’s job has not been described fully yet,” he said. “I’m participating in rewriting” the job description.
He said so far, the job carried with it “heavy emphasis on day-to-day management, working with people who are responsible for the people, plants and animals. It looks like some of the show and merchandise-related activities that were part of the job that Terry was doing will be removed from the general manager’s responsibility.”
Bacon is happy that the show and merchandise responsibilities are going to be assigned to other managers, saying that it was clear “that there were too many things happening . . . to many responsibilities in the office. Terry was spread pretty thin, in my opinion.”
A year after joining the Zoo, Bacon enrolled in management-skills courses and seminars. He studied two years with the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums Management School.
Although his background is with animals, he had not handled animals on a day-to-day basis since his days at Cal Poly, where he was an associate professor of biology. His job as curator of herpetology involved management of the reptile collection as well as working with people.
“Every day at this institution has been different,” Bacon said. “I never regretted switching from academia to the zoo world.
“I didn’t know how quickly and deeply I would become involved in the totality of the zoo business. At this point, I feel really happy with what I see happening to the organization.”
Bacon said while the Zoo was growing, problems developed and departments began competing with one another. Now there has been a turnaround and employees of various departments are working together toward common goals, he said.
“You won’t find anybody more supportive of Bacon,” said David Glines, quality circle coordinator for the Zoo.
Glines, a former janitor and shop steward until he became part of management, said Bacon has been “real supportive of the change toward participation management at the Zoo.”
“I think his promotion is symbolic of the change in the autocratic style of management toward a participative style,” he said. “Bacon has shown himself to be an open-minded individual. It’s really encouraging to see him walking the grounds, talking to the troops.”
January 12, 1986, San Diego Union, F-35. Civic groups push 78-year old dream to link park to bay, by Roger Showley.
Three teams of architects, planners, bankers and engineers will spend next Saturday morning working on ways to link the park and bay. Three architects are leading the team: Richard Bundy, James McGraw and Walt Collins.
February 9, 1986, San Diego Union, F-47. Evidence abounds of Kate Sessions’ nursery, by Dale Ward.
The City Nursery until recently occupied the land off Park Boulevard where the new Navy Hospital now stands in Florida Canyon. The new nursery is presently situated on the Morley Field side of the enormous park and comprises about three acres. The location was an old dump and is considered temporary. Plans are under way for a new nursery in Morley Field.
February 24, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1, B-2. “El Cid” encircled in parking fuss, by Maga Puente.
“Unfortunately,” (San Diego architect Michael) Wilkes says, “the best view now is the southbound end of a northbound horse.”
March 2, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1, B-2. Increased patrols relieve many, not all apprehensions, by Jim Okerblom.
Despite the heavy security and the statistics, some park goers are not convinced — and the time when San Diegans could feel as safe in Balboa Park as they did in their back yards may be gone forever.
March 18, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-7. Balboa Park doesn’t need car museum, by Ron Palmer.
Without shame or embarrassment these wealthy paragons of free enterprise are asking the very public they want to evict for a free building, free parking and huge tax give-aways. They want to pursue their valuable classic-car investments as a “non-profit” business.
April 14, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Jousting over use of Balboa Park buildings . . . cloggers, square dancers, table tennis players, handicapped field hockey use Conference Building, by Rita Calvano.
If approved, the auto museum would sign a lease with the city requiring the non-profit corporation to restore the building at an estimate cost of $250,000.
Restoration would have to begin within six months of signing the lease and would have to be completed within five years, along with construction of an additional display area behind the Conference Building, where grass and a children’s playground now exist.
The museum expects to have made $221,900 at the end of the fourth operation year. Terry Knoepp, board member, said. The amount includes $82,000 in hotel/motel taxes, which the city would still have to agree to.
April 17, 1986, San Diego Union, B-15. Last, loving look at Zoo, by Sheldon Campbell.
(Editor’s Note: Just before his death on December 16, 1985, Sheldon Campbell, president of the Zoological Society of San Diego, completed this report to the board of trustees.)
Because this is my last report as President of the Zoological Society, a recital of accomplishments could be construed as bragging. Such is far from the case. Being President of the Society is actually a humbling experience.
To being with, no matter how well you perform, you are likely to be upstaged (and for that matter) out-performed) by an ingenious orangutan who spends most of his waking hours figuring out ways to outsmart you and the professional staff by devising strategies for escaping from his enclosure. One is humbled to realize that ten years from now the name Ken Allen will be better remembered than one’s own.
Second, you soon learn that if that same orangutan were made somehow made president of the society, it would be he rather than you making the presentation of our conservation medal to Prince Phillip and dining with the Queen aboard the royal yacht (after, no doubt, a few lessons in etiquette and refinement of table manners.)
The moral is clear. It’s not the individual, but the reputations of the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park which lift the incumbent president to such exalted status that he or she can dine with princes and queens.
Most importantly, the president of our society soon learns that he or she alone can accomplish nothing. There have been, I think, some praiseworthy accomplishments during my three-year tenure, but for every single accomplishment, praise should go to somebody else, and for most of them, to several somebody elses because most of what we do requires a team effort.
In fact, if I were to accept any personal praise, I would want it to come because I was smart enough to step aside and let the good people on our staff, committees, and board of trustees secure the present and establish beachheads in the future for out two great institutions.
Although the best is yet to come with the completion of the African Rock Kopje and the significant and innovative rain-forest exhibits in Cascade Canyon (made possible by donations from any people, including the largest we have ever received, $3.3 million from Mrs. Ray Kroc), we have seen a creditable amount of building over the past three years.
New or completely renovated structures fall into two general categories. Those that are designed to increase our revenues so we can go on paying the bills and those which relate to the care and exhibiting of our animals and plants or otherwise help make out two zoos better for visitors.
These categories fit in nicely with the “Key Result Area” which have been elaborated in the Society’s long-range, strategic plan. The Diamond Edge (So named because we have targeted the completion of our objectives for 1991 — our diamond anniversary year) has focused on five significant goals. These include work to: Develop a comprehensive plan integrating animals, plants and facilities; make the organization more responsive to its operating environment; enhance our revenue; and improve the visitor experience.
We have set out standards high, as we always do, and we believe that the Third Generation Zoo can be a reality with the support of you, our friends and members.
Another achievement of which we are proud is the Society’s first attempt at self-publication. Simply put, this means we were successful in creating and printing a book entitled Wild in the City: The Best of ZOONOOZ. It really is a beautiful edition and we have received numerous compliments from those who have copies.
With an eye toward education, last year marked the initiation of our Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series, with Roger Fouts and Joanne Tanner. Underwritten by a generous grant from Ralph’s Grocery Company, we hope to present five programs of Zoological Society interest during 1986.
Perhaps the most far-reaching activities that we experiences involved international travels during which representatives of our society made progress in our relations with other conservation-oriented people.
From New Guinea to Ecuador and Paraguay to the USSR, and most importantly to China, we journeyed and were warmly received. Common interests were explored, and friendships and sincere professional collaborations were developed. It is on this solid foundation which we intend to further cultivate alliances with other nations in our global effort to promote wildlife preservation.
The years ahead are filled with both promises and challenges. We will do everything in our power, with your encouragement, to continue our progress in the areas of research conservation, education and recreation.
April 22, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-6. Letter, Will an Automotive Museum extend free admission?, by Mrs. Helen Thrasher.
As retired seniors on limited income, my husband and I enjoy and appreciate the free entertainment in Balboa park on Sunday afternoons.
It costs us nothing to watch the dance groups in the park buildings, but if an automotive museum takes over, will they extend free admission?
Another museum might be nice for the once-a-year visitor to the park, but to the once-a-week “regulars” it is a great disappointment.
Will they next take away the organ concerts and lawn programs?
April 25, 1986. San Diego Tribune, B-14. Letter, Conference Building one-tenth the size of two football fields, not the size of two football fields, by C. J. Paderewski.
In The Tribune of April 14, the article, “Balboa Park buildings: jousting over their use,” has a slight error.
To quote ” . . . the building (Conference) whose 10,000 square feet of usable space is roughly the size of two football fields . . . ” This isn’t even close to being correct.
A football field measures 160 feet by 300 feet, r 48,000 square feet, and two football fields would be 96,000 square feet, which makes the usable space in the Conference Building, approximately one-tenth the size of two football fields, not the size of two football fields.
Unfortunately, readers who have never been in this building will have an entirely incorrect impression of its size and most certainly will develop wrong ideas as to its use.
Incidentally, converting the Conference Building into an “automotive museum” seems logical in that such use would be compatible with that of the Aerospace Museum, which is immediately adjacent to it. Both museums would attract persons of like interests.
April 28, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Zoo takes first step in climatic redesign, by Gina Lubrano.
The bobcat is busy at San Diego Zoo. But it’s not an animal — it’s a miniature bulldozer moving earth in a way that will make current Zoo maps obsolete.
Workers are using the machinery to create a $1 million kopje (pronounced copy) exhibit that is scheduled to open in June, Kopje means an island of rocks in an African plain.
The kopje exhibit is the first of a series of projects to redesign the Zoo around climate zones as part of an ambitious development plan known as the Diamond Edge, which will carry the 70-year old Zoo into its Diamond anniversary in 1991. However, climate-zone conversion will take at least 20 years to complete and cost an estimated $100 million.
The animals are now grouped according to types — hoofstock in one area, primates in another. The new layout will be bioclimatic — plants and animals found in particular climates, such as deserts or tropics, will be grouped together.
Demolition work already is under way for the $4 million Cascade Canyon project to transform a second area of the Zoo to a bioclimatic zone, this time a rain forest. Work on that project could be completed as early as next summer, said David Rice, director of planning and architecture for the society.
Once Cascade Canyon is done, “we have some choices to make on priorities,” said Richard Binford, deputy director of the zoological society.
He said it will be up to trustees how to proceed — to go ahead with Bear Canyon, another area of the Zoo, or concentrate on another aspect of the Diamond Edge, making the Wild Animal Park financially self-sustaining.
How quickly plans are implemented depends on availability of money and manpower, he said.
For now, anyway, most of the energies are on the kopje exhibit that is going in an unused area of the Zoo. When first conceived, the project was estimated at $587,000, but key changes, such as doing the project in one phases instead of three, drove the cost to $1 million.
“The kopje is a major test of our bioclimatic concept,” Binford said.
“I’m really hot on the entire redevelopment plan,” said Dr. James Dolan, the society’s curator of mammals.
Although San Diego is not the first Zoo to go to climates, Dolan is confident that the environment here will make for more diversity.
“By the time we’re through, I don’t think anybody has the potential to catch up to us. We can do things here climatically that has other people hamstrung. It’s a really exciting time for all of us to see the Zoo developing in a new direction, a very modern direction.”
Dolan is convinced animals will prosper in the new exhibits and that visitors will be provided with a better educational experience.
“It’s going to be more like their natural environment,” he said of the animals, making it possible for them to behave more naturally.
Zoo visitors who walk by the kopje construction or see it from tour buses will spot the upheaval of rocks for which the name is derived. Workmen are spraying concrete on wire forms to create 64 huge boulders that are being mixed with 15 tons of natural rocks. While still wet, the boulders are covered with tin foil for texturing, making them look like huge chocolate kisses.
The project also will include plants that are found in the grasslands of an African savanna. Finally, animals that will be placed in the exhibit will include the klipspringer, a type of antelope; rock hyrax, which resembles a rodent; dwarf mongoose; Verreaux’s eagle, and reptiles.
Charles Coburn, Zoo horticulturist, believes that visitors will know immediately that the exhibit is different from anything else at the Zoo. Visitors will recognize them as “much more advanced,” “much more sophisticated.”
It is the job of his department to landscape the exhibit with more than 100 plant species, among them 10 different grasses and 10 different species of pelargonium, a type of geranium.
Coburn sees the new concept as providing a “gallery for very interesting plants.”
Once the entire project is complete the new Zoo layout will represent nine bioclimates. While not trying to reproduce the climates, “we will take advantage of the microclimates of the canyons,” Rice said.
The bioclimatic layout “makes it a representation of what the world is really like, so we’re not displaying just the animals, but the animals and vegetation . . . that’s appropriate,” he said.
Design guidelines for the bioclimatic exhibits contain five goals.
- Recreate the drama of encountering animals in the wild by creating an illusion of wilderness.
- Recreate the natural habitat as accurately as possible and populate it with animals that are found in the environment.
- Immerse the visitor in the landscape by allowing him to wander around “sensing the feel, sight, smell and mood of that landscape before actually seeing the animals.
- Place the visitor in an unfamiliar world and make the animal dominant overall. “Arrange the exhibit so that the viewer unconsciously accepts the attitude of being at that moment subordinate to animals being viewed.”
- Eliminate distracting and incongruous objects and views, such as man-made structures.
Rice said the new approach has brought more people into planning and working on the exhibit. Under the old way, about 30 people were involved in new exhibits. The kopje project has involved about 100 people, making it admittedly more cumbersome, but bringing with it a wealth of talent.
May 16, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-14. Policy requiring fees for reserving picnic shelters at Rohr Park pours rain on picnic plans, by Laura Preble.
May 24, 1986, San Diego Union. Robert D. Gardner, car lover, helps plan Automotive Museum, by Gina Cioffi.
Because the city no longer will pay for maintenance at the Conference Building, Gardner said it makes sense to allow the museum to use the building and pay for remodeling and upkeep.
There will be an auto-restoration area where volunteers, with or without mechanical aptitude or experience, can help turn rusty wheels into dreams on wheels.
May 28, 1986, San Diego Union, B-7. Letter, San Diego Union has not fairly presented two sides to issue of Automotive Museum, by R. Wells, San Diego.
In its naiveté, or by a non-stated opinion on a matter, The San Diego Union by its article concerning a proposed auto museum in Balboa Park (May 24) has grossly omitted many salient points — mainly the considerable opposition to such development in one of the prime locations in Balboa Park.
In brief, at public meetings to date, it has been shown that the politically well-identified “auto-museum” corporation has doubtful financial resources to accomplish its stated goals. It was questioned as to whether or not it was a parking lot for collectors’ personal automobiles.
The organizations presently occupying the Conference Building in Balboa Park made meaningful arguments totally upholding the present community-oriented use of the building and substantially debased the corporation’s argument for its rent-free use in Balboa Park.
Good grief, editor, most of your supporters and we other captives recognize that there are at least two sides to most issues. Your staff, well knowing this, should better address the future of one of the key issues concerning Balboa Park.
May 29, 1986, San Diego Union, B-2. Museums to offer ticket package, by Lew Scarr.
The package, called “A Passport to Balboa Park,” will represent $10.50 worth of museum tickets for $8 and will be available at each of the participating museums and the information center in the House of Hospitality.
June 15, 1986, San Diego Union, F-35. Balboa’s series of rose gardens reflects attitude change in United States, by Dick Streeper.
It might surprise some persons to note that the current Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden is actually the eighth rose garden to be planned or built in the park.
June 18, 1986, San Diego Tribune, A-1, A-9. Betty Jo Williams, Zoo’s ambassador, by Rita Calvano.
Betty Joe Williams listened with growing concern as discussion at a lunch with community leaders focused on serious matters such as drugs and children who use them.
Then it was her turn to introduce herself and speak.
“I’m representing the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park,” Williams recalls telling the group. “How wonderful it is that we have something going on in our community which is wholesome, considered like home, mom and apple pie.”
She went on to relate that a Navy Hospital official had told her how delighted he was that San Diego has a place like the zoo where young military men and women can spend their time.
It was a typically upbeat presentation by Williams, president since January of the city’s pre-eminent board, that of the 70-year-old Zoological Society of San Diego.
On the surface, she seems Pollyanna-like, brimming with optimism and idealistic views about the zoo’s place in the community.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to have the position and have the responsibility because the zoo is a treasure for San Diego . . . and to the people of San Diego,” she says.
“You realize the obligation you owe not only to the past but to people here now to see to it that the zoo is what they want and stays on the cutting edge of what a zoo should be.”
Behind the constant smile, when pushed about her ability to lead this 12-member board, the rest of whom are prominent, influential men, Williams exudes confidence.
“It’s no time for jitters,” she says. “I think you have confidence in your fellow board members, confidence in the staff. You realize that they would like you to do your best. You realize that they must have confidence in you to have elected you . . .
Fellow board member, Dr. Albert Anderson is quick to offer his vote of confidence.
“An outstanding president,” he says. “She understands people very well, knows how to handle a meeting. Her attitude about the future of the zoo and the things that are going on are always upbeat.”
George Gildred, another longtime director, says Williams is a solid leader.
“I don’t think for a moment she puts up with anything that she considers frivolous,” he says. “I think the zoo is all business to her, and properly so.”
Indeed, she expresses determination that the zoo maintain its national and international reputation.
“The pressure,” she says, “is knowing that you’re responsible for this wonderful treasure in our midst, that it is the premiere visitor attraction, drawing millions to San Diego, the responsibility to the city, to our members to keep it in pristine condition.”
And she knows that requires a continuous commitment to staying ahead of the pack in such key areas as the animal and plant collections and reproduction of rare species.
She also must shepherd the 130,000-member society, fund-raising, international diplomacy to ensure animal exchanges, a continuous program to build new exhibits and the zoo’s $52 million annual operating budget.
To accomplish all that, Williams spends at least three or four days a week on the job. She also walks the zoo grounds at least once a week, recently to check on all the babies born at the park, always a cause for celebration.
Her trademark page-boy haircut bobbing, she leads a visitor on a quick-paced, exhausting our of the grounds.
At the camel exhibit, she points to a fuzzy-haired fellow nuzzling up to his mother, as the father, on the other side of a fence, stands tall.
Williams beams at this young snuggler, the first Bactrian (two-humped) camel to be born at the zoo since 1948.
The next stop is the $900,000 kopje exhibit, scheduled to open in early July. Two society employees accompany her on this part of the tour, pleasing her with their detailed knowledge of everything from marketing studies to the process involved in the enclosure’s design and construction.
The results that we see at the kopje exhibit . . . are the ones that to me are the most thrilling,” Williams says, “because the visitors’ experience here to me is what is the most important part of the zoo.”
The kopje — in Africa an outcropping of rocks — is the first of several exhibits to be built over the next 30 years — at an estimated cost of more than $100 million — that will display plants and animals native to certain climatic regions of the world.
Now beasts are exhibited more according to species, some in worn, barred cages or enclosures with moats dating back to the late 1920s. Many of the zoo’s equally rare shrubs, trees and flowers grow throughout the 100-acres, regardless of where they would naturally fit into the environment.
The kopje exhibit was built to begin correcting that situation.
“It . . . shows the least amount of barrier to you and the most natural living quarters for the animals,” Williams says.
During the four-hour tour, Williams listens and observes, waving to a frequent visitor she recognizes and asked questions at the Avian Propagation Center, where rare birds are bred and raised. There, she holds a 3-month-old blue and gold macaw. It bites her on the finger. With typical aplomb, she remains calm, as bird keepers rush to her aid.
Later, Dr. Werner Heuschele, new director of the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, keeps her laughing with animal yarns. She also lends a sympathetic ear as Heuschele tells her that his house was burglarized the night before.
Modest and soft-spoken, she takes no personal credit for society accomplishments, past or present, preferring to emphasize teamwork and to shower glory upon colleagues and employees.
“We’re all in this together,” she says.
She acknowledges changes, however, in her own schedule and in her responsibilities.
“It used to be that I was on more than half of the (12 board) committees before I became president. As president, I try to go to as many committee meetings as possible so I understand what our members are saying. I’m more knowledgeable about the direction, problems and successes in any particular area.”
Her leadership style contrasts somewhat with that of her predecessor, Sheldon Campbell, who enjoyed spinning a yarn for anyone who would listen, was glib and anxious that the board adopt his ideas.
“That’s not my style,” Williams says. “I feel that rather than push my ideas forward, I prefer to have the ideas come to me and try and work out the ideas of everyone and see to it that those ideas that are to the best interest of the society (and) worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.”
Anderson offers this comparison:
“I think that Sheldon was the scientist type who spent almost . . . his entire working day at the zoo and did a rally good job, where B. J., although she understands the scientific portion of it, is also more business activated. I think she gets more things done a little bit faster.”
During her one-year term, Williams intends to concentrate much of her own work as president on improving the visitor experience — a term officials use to describe how a visitor’s time is spent at the zoo or Wild Animal Park.
“It has been my experience that when people see the zoo and when they become delighted with it, they want to become involved,” she says.
She will also focus attention on new ways to lure large donors to contribute to the zoological society.
“We have some very close zoo family members that are large donors, and who are very important to us and who have made possible the wonderful third generation of exhibits which we will all enjoy,” Williams says.
“We love our major donors. We consider them a very important part of our family, and there is all this room for everyone who wants to join our family at whatever level they wish to participate.”
More than 90 percent of the operating budget comes from the “terribly important” memberships, gate receipts and food and gift sales. The expenditures for major construction, however, are entirely financed by contributions.
Williams respects all donors, writing handwritten notes to some, adding notes to form letters and individual letters of thanks, adding a personal touch to foster good will.
In discussing the society’s work, Williams frequently refers to the Diamond Edge plan, the society’s comprehensive development plan that will take the zoo to its 75th birthday and states a philosophy that includes education and research as key goals.
“We’re providing the best zoo and wild animal park in the world, according to world-class standards,” she says, “and we can only provide them (visitors) the most unusual, the best exhibit anywhere by providing them with education and the research to keep all those lovely animals.”
The plan represents a philosophical shift. It concentrates much more heavily on education, research and conservation than many perceived it to be last year when The Tribune published a series of articles that in part dealt with employee complaints about entertainment at the zoo, both in an animal show that was to open soon and about summer concerts at the zoo.
The employees said the entertainment detracted from the zoo’s real purpose as a protector of wild animals and plants among other things.
“That (displeasure with the concerts) was quite a common complaint among people at the zoo, employees,” she says.
Trustees had already decided to shift gears by the time the articles appeared, she says.
Williams defends former zoo general manager Terry Winnick, who resigned last year, and was considered by critics to be among those who planned entertainment at the expense of conservation.
“Terry was very good in his time, and he did exactly what he was asked to do,” Williams says. “The trustees had asked him to put on concerts, then . . . we changed directions . . . ”
She adds that Winnick also had started to carry out the Diamond Edge plan.
He was succeeded in January by James Bacon, a biologist and long-time zoo employee who had been curator of reptiles at the time of his appointment.
Bacon died April 4. Art Rissser, a veterinarian and curator of birds, who is widely recognized for his part in the California Condor Recover Project — aimed at saving the birds from dying off — became general manager April 5.
In her role as board president, Williams is obviously well versed in a wide range of areas important to the zoological society. But, above all else, her love of animals is apparent, as she talks to the animals by imitating their squawks and chirps.
That love stems from her childhood.
Williams, a Los Angles native who moved to San Diego 33 years ago, recalls an aviary in her backyard when she was growing up.
“My father thought all children should be raised in the country,” she says.
Because his manufacturing businesses were scattered, he had to be centrally located, thus living in the city and doing the next best thing to provide his kids with a country atmosphere.
“He tried to bring the chickens and ducks and geese to use,” she says.
A professional volunteer most of her life, Williams follows the footsteps of her mother, who was a member of the Beverly Hills board of education for 12 years, and a couple of grandparents who were heavily involved in Los Angeles civic affairs.
Trained by the Junior League, an international organization that had groomed many women for public service, Williams boasts a long list of volunteerism, including serving as past president of the Junior League, a director of the Natural History Museum and a fund-raiser for Stanford University, her alma mater.
In addition to the zoological society, she is on the board of the Committee of 100, which tries to preserve the Spanish colonial architecture in Balboa Park, and she is a member of the Wednesday Club, which, she said, is “a ladies’ educational and literary group.”
She lives in Point Loma with her husband, Hal, a stockbroker who has his own list of service to the community, including a seat on the board of the Old Globe Theater. The couple has three grown children.
She hopes to make a lasting imprint on the zoo, a legacy of improvements that keep the zoo a place “where you can spend a delightful day, learn about our life on this earth with these animals.”
“In this world of so many problems,” she says earnestly, “the zoo . . . is something that adds to our life personally. It’s wholesome.”
June 20, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Artificial moonlight from $25,000 lighting system for Casa del Prado donated to city by Committee of 100.
June 20, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-6. Park Board to ask ten acres of mesa land above Marian Bear Park.
June 22, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Balboa Park called much safer today; beefed-up police patrols succeed in cutting crime rate, by Ed Jahn.
Although some criminal activity picks up during the summer months, it is still much less per capita than some other areas of the city, Lt. Claude Gray said.
June 22, 1986, San Diego Union, F-43. Dine in the house of a Moorish king, by Dale Ward.
From mid-spring through summer one of the main attractive features of this special Spanish garden is the blood-red trumpet vines, Distinctis buccinatoria, which produces a glorious canopy covering half the outdoor dining level with color.
June 30, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Casa del Prado in Balboa Park is illuminated with artificial moonlight from a $25,000 lighting system donated to the city by the Committee of 100. The system was designed by John Watson, who specializes in creating artificial moonlight. (photo)
July 27, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II, 1, 3, 12. Cars or cloggers? Space war splits Conference Building; Dancers battle for slice of Balboa Park space, by Jenny Scott.
On the surface, it hardly seems a building to go to battle over. A long, low-slung, white elephant covered with peeling tan paint, housing a huge hall like a high school auditorium left over from an era of higher birth rates.
But the Conference Building in Balboa Park is at the center of a growing war over the future of one of the world’s most remarkable downtown parks. At issue is who will have access to the park in the future — who will find a home there and who will be eased out.
On one side of the Conference Building controversy is a phalanx of square dancers, round dancers, folk dancers and cloggers, backed by Ping-Pong, badminton and volley ball players, and jugglers who have used the building and others near it for years.
On the other side is an assortment of car buffs and collectors, backed by some park planners and administrators of park museums. They have grand plans to turn the Conference Building into an auto museum, replete with Adolf Hitler’s Mercedes-Benz.
“A rich man’s garage,” the dancer faction growls scornfully.
“Mom and apple pie!” the car people grumble back.
The dispute exemplifies a broader debate over the evolution of Balboa Park, a debate likely to intensify as population growth increases the demand and pressure for space. For some, it is also a debate over the future of the city: What will the park, and the city, be for San Diegans?
Some, like Ron Pekarek, who is revising the park’s master plan, say Balboa Park is no longer a community park, but a park “of regional and national significance.” So the city can no longer afford to subsidize space for dancers, Boy Scouts and amateur archers, he says.
Pekarek and City Council members suggest that the park must become more self-supporting in these times of restrained public spending. Museums generate people, income and tax revenue, they say, which can be used to make the park thrive.
But others counter that parks should no more be self-supporting than schools; they are a public service that the public should be willing to support. They quote Balboa Park’s 120-year old mandate as “free and open part space.” The put the emphasis on free.
A park’s essence is its diversity, they say, and that diversity will be lost if what they call the “museumification” of Balboa Park continues. They say culture should not be defined narrowly — it includes square dancing, clogging and table tennis.
“There are, of course, many different uses for the park and many people see the park differently,” said Robert Arnhym, chairman of the Balboa Park Committee, which must begin deciding the Conference Building’s fate at a hearing August 4. “The people that come here from New York see this as a national park. Those that live across the street see it as a neighborhood park.”
“You have to decided what the ultimate land use of the park should be,” said Ann Hix, a member of the city’s Park and Recreation Board, which will take up the debate after Arnhym’s committee. “And that’s an impossible task.”
The Conference Building is part of a cluster of buildings in the so-called Palisades area of the park. Built for the 1935 Pan-American Exposition [sic], they include the municipal gymnasium, Federal Building and Palisades Building near the Aerospace Museum and Starlight Bowl.
After World War II, the buildings were empty, aching for tenants and falling into disrepair. The city had to go out and hunt for tenants, officials remember. Gradually, square dancers and badminton players began filtering in.
The special attraction of the Conference Building is its 16,000 square feet of unobstructed floor space — room for a passel of dancers and a fleet of Ping-Pong tables. It also contains the park’s only large cement and tile floor, the only kind of floor that can survive clogging, a form of folk dance in which the dancers wear wooden clogs to tap out the rhythm.
Dancers say that as many as 30,000 people regularly use the buildings, including Olympic volleyball players, pickup basketball players and the San Diego Table Tennis Association. Sunday nights, the giant Conference Building clatters with cloggers.
“It’s hard to find anything bad about any tenant in any of these buildings,” said Bob Wells, who has played badminton in the Federal Building since 1938. “The dancers were saying, ‘We keep people off the streets. It’s wholesome.’ With badminton, it’s the same.”
The 1960 park master plan designated the buildings for demolition — a proposal many people still support as a means of retrieving lost open space. But before the buildings could be removed, they were declared historic monuments. Now they are there to stay.
So Pekarek, in his controversial 1983 master-plan amendment proposals, suggested that the Palisades area buildings be turned into museums. They would be consistent with the activities in the adjoining Prado, forming “a truly unique cultural complex.”
Pekarek suggested that athletic activities go to Morley Field where the city might consider building a gymnasium. As for the dancing and community events, they might move to the newly vacated Navy Hospital buildings, or out to community parks.
“In the practice of planning parks, it’s not common to put that kind of community function in a park of regional significance,” said Pekarek, president of The Pekarek Group, a landscape architecture and planning firm. ” . . . it makes no sense to put a function into buildings such as that when that function can take place any place in the city.”
Pekarek would also oust the archery field in Palm Canyon, replacing it with a parking garage for people visiting the museums. Other uses he feels are too specialized to remain in the park include the camps run by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls.
“It’s like locating some special use on the edge of the bay, like a dancing club,” says Pekarek, whose proposals will be the subject of hearings this fall. “Why would you do that? It has a much higher use and could serve a greater cross-section, rather than a special use.”
The San Diego Automotive Museum proposal surfaced in 1962, the latest in a series of auto museum schemes that beginning in the late 1970s never got into gear. Dan Biggs, the current president, traces the original impulse to a group of wealthy car collectors and movers and shakers.
Councilman Bill Cleator’s office contacted Biggs. Others involved included former U.S. Atty. Terry Knoepp, Gene Trepte of Trepte Construction, and Reid Carroll of KFMB radio, Biggs said. What brought them together, he said, was “a love of cars and desire to have a place in Balboa Park where the interest in cars could be perpetuated.”
Since then, the museum group’s board of directors has changed repeatedly, and efforts to get a current list were unavailing. A recent list of the advisory board included Cleator; publishing executive David Copley; attorney John Davies; and Mike Madigan, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
According to Biggs, the museum would lease the building and land behind it for a token fee, and would invest $300,000 in renovations. The museum would have a permanent collection of rare cards as well as specialty shows changing every three months.
There would also be a research library on the history and workings of automobiles and a restoration shop including mechanical displays and a repair shop. Museum officials say they are working with schools to arrange courses on such matters as pan-striping and hydraulic lifts.
“The car is — I’m sure history will say it was — one of the most significant factors in our culture and life,” Biggs said. ” . . . Now in Southern California, there is about as extensive an offering of historically collectable cars as anyone could hope to have.”
In February, the museum proposal sailed past the Balboa Park Committee, an advisory group that makes recommendations to the Park and Recreation Board. But by the time it reached the Park and Recreation Committee the following month, the dancers had mobilized.
At that meeting, Gary Kaine, clogger and spokesman, dissected the museum proposal, suggesting that its attendance and membership projections were inflated. He pointed out that its cash balance was a mere $15,000 and that no cars had been donated.
Kaine argued that there were hidden costs to the city in the proposal, including the cost of accommodating more traffic in the already crowded park. If revenues turned out to be less than the projections, the museum would never break even, he said.
“They want a free building to display their cars,” Kaine said of the car aficionados in an interview recently. “This really is a slick deal for them. They would pay maintenance and in return they get a building rent-free, forever.”
Others complain that the museum plan places museums before people and puts the interests of tourists above those of San Diego residents. Some argue that a museum would be more beneficial elsewhere, attracting visitors to other parts of the city.
There has been widespread suspicion of an ulterior motive.
“I can’t help being suspicious that this is sort of a business venture,” said Robert Leffler, a former president of Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, an environmental group that keeps an eye on the park and opposes the museum. “Those vehicles aren’t being given to the city. People will see them and they will have a price tag and I can’t help thinking they’ll be up for sale.”
So Kaine and the dancers in March made a counterproposal, promising to raise dance attendance fees to pay all Conference Building utility and maintenance costs. They said they would create a fund to support building improvements and renovation.
Though park staff members have proposed alternative sites for the dancers and others, the dancers say the rooms are too small. Furthermore, there is no other floor in the park appropriate for the cloggers, so they would be ousted from the park.
The opposition to the museum took its proponents by surprise.
“We never thought there would be this organized outcry from the dancers,” said Jo-San Arnold, a member of the auto museum board. “They all came in their dancing uniforms and it was mom and apple pie appealing to the emotionalism of the board.”
“Well, the board got scared as far as I can see,” she concluded.
The board sent the question back to the Balboa Park Committee, telling the museum advocates to return with more detailed financial information. Specifically, they asked for evidence that the museum could raise sufficient money and acquire cars.
Since then, Arnold and Biggs have taken steps to rebut their critics’ complaints. Biggs said last week that te museum has pledges for $100,000 in cash contributions. He said it has received 27 cars for its core collection — 4 as gifts, 23 on a three-year loan.
Earlier this month, te museum convened representatives of what Arnold says was 45 car clubs from all over San Diego County. Arnold and Biggs say many of the 4,000 members are expected to participate in the museum’s revolving exhibitions.
“You’re going to think I’m corny, but I have goose pimples going down my spine when I think of how successful that meeting was,” Biggs said. “We had representatives from Chicano car clubs sitting down next tot he president and representatives of Mercedes-Benz and Bentley clubs. We had a representative from a club that does nothing but restore 18-wheeler trucks. We had a room full of people from diverse backgrounds, socially and economically.”
Biggs and Arnold say their museum is just as “community-oriented” as a crowd of cloggers, and will serve many more people than those who currently use the building. Cars are not a “special interest,” they say; perhaps dancing is.
“There’s a perception out there that his is a ‘rich-man’s garage.’ I’ve got to tell you, I’m from National City and I work a long day,” said Biggs, a civil engineer and president of Biggs Engineering Corp. ” . . . I think whoever can demonstrate tot eh City Council that their cause is the most public-intensive should have the right to use the building.”
A few hundred yards east, a similar issue has surfaced before the committee considering future use for the Navy Hospital property. That committee recommended to the city this month that it tear down most of the buildings to restore open space.
But in hearings over the past year, dozens of groups appeared to bid for room in the buildings. The groups represented veterans, university women, doll lovers, fly fishermen, credit counselors, architects, bookworms, railway buffs, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others.
“What became apparent is there is an unlimited desire to be in Balboa Park,” said Ann Hix, committee chairman and a Park and Recreation Board member. “The park’s an idea location, the city subsidizes the space, generally speaking. Who could ask for a better setting?”
“But they have a narrow focus,” she said. “Some are interested in cars and want cars in Balboa Park. Other groups want their trains or dolls in Balboa Park. What the Park and Recreation Board has to do is step back and say what’s best for Balboa Park overall.
“It’s irrelevant whether we like trains. The question is what is the best use for the park?”
Hamilton Marston, whose grandfather came to San Diego in 1870 and helped plan the park, said the answer lies in Balboa Park’s original aim.
The land was set aside when the city had only 3,000 residents as an insurance policy against future growth. The open space of appropriately located parks makes urban density tolerable, Marston said. To institutionalize a new use there, like a museum, is an error.
“This city, located at the intersection of the Pacific Rim and the border of North America and Central America, with its magnificent climate is going to have immense growth in the future and much of it will be centered in the city,” Marston said.
The most precious commodity, he said, will be free and open park space.
August ?, 1986, San Diego Tribune, D-1, D-2. “Free days” are costly, by Mark-Elliott Lugo.
Although (Arthur) Ollman’s museum (of Photographic Arts) also received $84,000 annually in TOT funds, or 17.5 percent of its budget, he pointed out that San Diegans don’t make any direct contribution to cultural institutions except when the city proves them rent-free spaces in city-owned structures, such as the Casa de Balboa location for the Museum of Photographic Arts.
August 5, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-1, Cloggers win round from promoters of Automotive Museum, by Jenny Scott (illus.).
A plan to convert a historic Balboa Park building into a car museum suffered a setback Monday when (the Balboa Park Committee) withdrew its backing and sided with a confederation of cloggers and square dancers who have used the building for decades.
August 5, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Balboa Committee votes against Automotive Museum plan, by Rita Calvano.
August 5, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-6. Letter, Margaret Berube, Allied Gardens . . . ask public how Conference Building should be used.
Square and round dancers and cloggers are not the only groups using the Conference Building in Balboa Park. The table tennis players and the handicapped make use of this building also, to name but two.
To settle questions of the present use of the Conference Building vs. the proposed car museum, John Q. Public should be heard from in this regard. Keep the free admissions to the events now going on – or pay to visit restored cars in city-owned Balboa Park.
An unbiased tally should result.
August 5, 1986, San Diego Tribune, D-1, D-4. Sunday in Balboa Park, a ritual for runners, retirees, romantics, by John Glionna.
August 5, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Automotive Museum loses a round in site battle, by Lisa Petrillo.
August 7, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-10. EDITORIAL: A search for balance in Balboa Park.
Balboa Park is a nationally significant urban park, but we question the notion that is somehow has become too important to embrace such homespun activities as clog dancing and ping-pong along with its high-culture theater and art museums. We are delighted that the Balboa Park Committee agrees.
The specific issue before the Balboa Park Committee this week pitted backers of a proposed classic-car museum against community folk dancing clubs for control of the aging Conference Building, which has been used by the dancers for decades. The committee sided with the dancers after they promised to raise about $50,000 a year to help restore and maintain the building, located next door to the Aerospace Museum. But the dancers also will have to convince te city Park and Recreation Board, the council’s Public Facilities Committee and the full council.
Who would be hurt the most if the lose the Conference Building? The San Diego Automotive Museum surely could find another building outside the park to house its collection. More likely, the folk dancers could not. There is, for instance, no other building in the park with a concrete floor suitable for the weekly stomping of clog dancers.
The Automotive Museum has been attacked as “elitist” and financially shaky. We think those claims are beside the point. A museum, be definition, is a populist institution, regardless of the nature of its collection. The fact that Balboa Park already has 10 museums doe not worry us, museums are for people. But backers of the car museum could have plenty of money and we would still favor continuation of the current activities in the Conference Building. Those activities also include badminton, basketball, volleyball, juggling, ping-pong tournaments, floor hockey for the handicapped — in short, all the things one would expect to find in a community park.
The year-long battle over the Conference Building — which is a part of the broader debate over the park’s future — has been characterized as a struggle between tourist -oriented activities and those that appeal to local users of the park. We think there is no need for such a struggle. The interests of both sides can be accommodated and, indeed, both sides benefit when a wide variety of recreational activities is available in the park. We hope the city council will also recognize that the key to the future of Balboa Park is striking a fair balance of the competing interests arising from an increasingly diverse community.
August 7, 1986, San Diego Tribune, D-2. Visual Arts versus performing arts in battle for House of Charm, by Mark-Elliot Lugo.
The City Council this week temporarily put on hold a smoldering conflict that threatens to pit San Diego’s visual arts and performing arts communities against each other.
The council was to vote Monday on a Musical Arts Foundation application for a one-year extension of an option to lease from the city and rebuild the decaying House of Charm in Balboa Park. But a last-minute plea before the council by the San Diego Art Institute, which has occupied the House of Charm for the past 33 years, delayed the action for seven weeks.
The foundation’s three-year lease option expires tomorrow and was originally intended to allow it time to raise $6 million to rebuild the House of Charm. As of this week, the foundation had raised $1 million of the building cost, now estimated at $7 million.
The institute is a 550-member artists organization and gallery. Gallery director Shirley Viennese and other members of the institute are convinced that the institute’s existence is threatened by the foundation’s plans. Those plans call for rebuilding the historic, city-owned building, expanding it from 40,000 to 60,000 square feet and using the space for a Musical Arts Museum, rehearsal rooms, a small theater, a library, administrative space for the San Diego Opera and facilities for related activities.
A handsome brochure, geared for prospective patrons and prepared by the foundation, emphasizes the proposed museum’s educational value to San Diego schoolchildren, “in developing the audience and performers of the future and (preserving) our cultural heritage.”
Monday’s council delay, said institute spokesman Carl Mikeman may give his group enough time to form a coalition with other arts organizations that will “come up with an alternative plan that might better benefit the city.” Mikeman said he hopes that a cooperative, shared use agreement might be worked out between the institute and the foundation.
Joseph W. Hibben, Musical Arts Foundation chairman, said he empathizes with the institute’s plight and admits he occasionally purchases works of art there. But a primary concern, he said, is “seeing that the building is restored and that it has a viable program” in keeping with the other cultural activities in the park.
Hibben said he perceives the situation largely in financial terms. “I’m sure a lot of people would like to have the space,” he said, “but somebody has to pay for the construction.” Hibben said he believes that the foundation has the best chance of successfully completing the rebuilding project because its financial resources — in particular, its fund-raising capabilities — are greater than the institute’s.
The foundation’s $1 million commitment comes from an anonymous donor in the form of a challenge grant with no time limitations. The Committee of 100 (an organization dedicated to the preservation of Balboa Park’s Spanish Colonial architecture) has made an additional commitment of the same amount to recreate the building’s exterior.
The foundation, Hibben said, is looking for a single donor, or a small family group or a private corporation, plus a foundation, plus the individuals in a family group that would . . . build this building as a monument to somebody in the family or to the family.”
Identifying the appropriate wealthy person takes time, Hibben explained, outline the complex steps, he said, the foundation has taken to find a patron. “You don’t just go to a rich person and ask them [sic] for the money.”
“We haven’t had anyone that’s turned us down. They’ve said, ‘not now ‘ or ‘not this time’ or ‘let me think about it,’ I can’t promise that we’d get it (the money) within the next year.”
A one-year extension of the option agreement probably won’t be enough, Hibben said, “but we’ll take it if they (the City Council) give it to us. And if they don’t want us to do it, to hell with it! It’s that simple.”
Art institute supporters see the foundation plan in life-or-death terms. They say they believe that the House of Charm, with its heavy foot traffic and proximity to the art audiences generated by the Museum of Art and the Timken Gallery, attracts people from a wide range of age groups, economic levels and cultural backgrounds. An “opera museum,” they argue, would serve only a small, elite clientele.
Whatever the case, observers of San Diego’s are scene generally agree that over the past few years — especially under the guidance of Viennese and an increasingly progressive board — the institute is emerging as one of the most vital and flexible art groups in the city. Its influence could become paramount when plans for a proposed Municipal Art Gallery are finalized. The institute has been suggested as the nucleus for such a museum.
The institute offers several additional arguments in its favor.
Its exhibitions are free to the public, whereas the proposed music arts museum plans to charge admission, and the museum would impact the park with an additional audience and aggravate parking problems in the park. The music arts museum, institute spokesmen say, belongs downtown with the Civic Theater, the new Symphony Hall and other theaters.
The institute operates on an annual budget of approximately $57,000 and relies partially on fund-raisers such as food sales at Christmas on the Prado. Mikeman hints that major backers have expressed interest in financially supporting an institute bid to rebuild the House of Charm, but says specifics can’t be divulged at this time.
Hibben said he isn’t convinced by the institute’s argument that it must stay in its present location. “There’s lots of room in Balboa Park,” he said. “I think there’s even more room over in the Electric Building. . . . But we’re willing to do whatever the council wants us to do. If they want us to go ahead and try to raise some money, we’ll do that. . . . If they want to give it to the Art Institute, that’s fine with me, but I don’t know who’s going to build the building.”
August 10, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-2. Letter, Park priorities . . . a rich man’s garage rather than a recreational asset, by Martha M. Witz.
August 15, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-10. Letter, Automotive Museum would be park asset, by E. R. Karalis, San Diego.
In The Tribune editorial, “A search for balance in Balboa Park” (8-7-86), you claim that dancers and other activities are needful and that another museum is not. You suggest that the San Diego Automotive Museum could find another building outside the park. Two costly and extensive studies disagree with that conclusion.
In 1985, more than 6.5 million people visited the park; they made 16 million stops. That means after they visited the zoo, they went to the Aerospace Museum or the Museum of Arts to see one of the greatest collections of art in the Western world.
The most important element for a successful venture is location.
The San Diego Automotive Museum is a non-profit corporation whose only goal is to create and perpetuate one of the 10 best automobile museums in the world.
The building will be restored and enhanced at no coast to the city. It will revert to the city at the end of the lease period.
In the interim, a much broader segment of the population than a few hundred square dancers and cloggers will have been served. Why do so few people need 16,000 square feet of floor space? They have been offered a hundred alternate sites and rejected them all.
The Automotive Museum will be a community asset and in the process it will turn a neglected liability into a building that everyone can be proud of.
August 16 – 24, 1986. America’s Finest City Week.
August 17, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-2. EDITORIAL: Put brakes on car museum.
In the coming months, a debate will begin over the future of Balboa Park, leading eventually to decisions that will mark for decades the way San Diegans relate to one of their most precious assets. At the core of the discussion will be this question: To what extend should the park be treated as a tourist attraction with an emphasis on generating a high volume of people, and to what extent should it be considered a resource for those of us who live here?
A preview of what lies ahead when the 1983 Balboa Park Development and Management Plan moves center stage for consideration can be seen in the current controversy over a proposal to displace cloggers and square dancers from the park’s Conference Building in favor of an automotive museum.
The draft of the Balboa Park Plan prepared for the city by the Pekarek Group is a provocative study, chockablock with controversial recommendations that will no doubt be hotly debated as the planning process moves through the city bureaucracy and the City Council. We’ll have more to say on the broader picture as the process unfolds.
As for the Conference Building, it’s a rather forlorn structure across a parking lot from the Municipal Gymnasium. Turning it into a museum is consistent with Pekarek’s proposals. The backers of the San Diego Automotive Museum say they would be adding a popular attraction to those that already exist in the park; the dancers simply want to continue what they say is wholesome recreation.
To our way of thinking, the issue here is not which is the more worthy activity — both are perfectly commendable endeavors — but whether the effort should be made to draw more people with more cars to yet another museum in the park. We think not.
We don’t deny that Balboa Park has developed into the cultural heart of the county. And we wouldn’t want to change that. But it would be a mistake to lose sight of the fact that it does remain a park, a place where people should be able to retreat from the hustle and bustle of their lives. If it is viewed primarily as a tourist center like say, Sea World, the park will eventually reach a critical level of development beyond which the typical experience of San Diegans who use it will begin to deteriorate.
We strongly support San Diego’s tourist industry. We’re happy it has cultural institutions, such as the Old Globe Theater, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Aerospace Museum and others in the park to bring tourists to town. An auto museum — elsewhere in the county — would be a welcome addition.
But when it comes to nibbling further into a scarce resource such as Balboa Park, there comes a time when local residents are entitled to say, “Stop! Enough is enough. This, after all, does belong to us.”
When the Park and Recreation Board takes up the auto museum proposal Thursday, it should join the Balboa Park Committee in rejecting it. At a minimum, the plan should be deferred and considered in the overall context of the future development of the park. It makes no sense to approve it now.
August 22, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-4. Dancers may be bounced out of Balboa Park, by Rita Calvano.
August 22, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Park & Recreation Board voted to let Automotive Museum take over Conference Building, by Lisa Petrillo.
August 22, 1986, San Diego Union, B-9. Zoo needs better primate housing, not more glitz, by Ann Lawton.
During March and April 1985, your newspaper printed an series of excellent articles about the San Diego Zoo and its aged animal facilities, which were built and have not bee replaced since the ‘20s and ‘30s.
At that time Dr. Frank Enders, the veterinarian inspector with the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, gave the zoo yet another year to make improvements, and bring certain exhibits up to federal standards or lose its license.
Apparently the zoo has corrected water quality and tanks for performing sea lions, provided electrical power for cat, dog and bear canyons, and fixed — we hope — the design and construction problems of the new siamang and orangutan enclosures to stop escapes and water seepage in bedrooms.
As a result of the articles in your newspaper, Joan Kroc gave the zoo a $3.5 million-dollar gift, a truly wonderful gift. Now the zoo administration is changing and renovating once-beautiful Cascade Canyon (built only about 10 years ago) into a rain forest “bio-climate” for two Sumatran tigers, a pair of fishing cats and other mammals for around $2.5 million, the zoo reports.
The most recently completed exhibit is the African Kopje, a small corner area containing two klipspringer antelope in a minute display, and a larger exhibit of Verreaux’s eagles which cost a million dollars, not the $500,000 first budgeted. (What the zoo pays for construction these days is simply amazing, what with “expert” designers from Seattle who get very lucrative fees and all construction done by an outside contractor instead of zoo employees.
However, there is another serious problem at the zoo that your staff writers did not mention in their article of 1985. This is the inadequate primate housing and display units known as the Monkey Quadrangle and the Great Ape House.
When asked about this, the stock answer by the zoo administration is, “Well, these facilities were built in 1935 and 1965.” As Dr. James Raswurm stated, “the fact that the facilities are old does not relieve them of the responsibility of getting them in shape.” (The Union, April 21, 1985).
Witness the plight of the primates in the old Monkey Quadrangle who are living in a sterile group of wire and concrete cages, the majority of which are approximately 8 feet by 8 feet, with a tiny bedroom in back measuring about 2 feet by 6 feet.
These cages were built around 1935, using Works Progress Administration labor and donated materials, mainly concrete, bricks and wire. Thus, over 50 years ago, Dr. Wegeforth, the Zoo founder, had them built for free, and he would be appalled if he knew this facility was still in use!
Due to lack of space and overcrowding, some of the monkeys have been “kept on hold” in a series of very small wire cages about 3 feet by 4 feet in size, which are off public view in the middle of the quadrangle.
These were designed originally for sick animas, but these cages had to be used to keep some animals as long as a year at a time, such as surplus males. And another item, one corner cage on public view has a sewer sump in its off-view bedroom.
The Great Ape House, built in 1965, is still being used for gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. Twenty years old, it was considered a modern design then, a step away from the old wire cages. These enclosures are constructed as one unit into the side of a large hill.
Built of concrete (now cracked badly) the structure is sitting on slender concrete pillars (which should be inspected for safety conditions). Also the core of the concrete is steel shafts, which are rusted badly. (This was noticed when Coco, an adult male orangutan, knocked a good-sized hole in the platform. He has seen been sent to the East Berlin Zoo).
The 12 bedroom cages below the platform are poorly lighted, poorly ventilated, hot in summer and cold in winter, and they are small, about 10 feet by 10 feet, had to keep clean, with aged concrete walls and floors.
Festoons of lace-like rust come down from the ceiling, due to water seepage from a top display platform which has to be hosed down every day for sanitary reasons. A few years ago, the zoo was showing these unsavory accommodations to visitors who took the tour to see an “orangutan bedroom.” Ditto the Monkey Quadrangle.
This structure was built during Dr. Schroeder’s regime, and at that time the zoo built what it wanted to and how it wanted to without getting proper city inspections and permits. (We hope they are being careful now!)
Because this is in such poor condition, the Great Ape House does seem dangerous now, especially in his era of 8.0 earthquakes. If this building collapsed, not only would give gorillas and three orangutans be endangered, but also a very rare group of African pygmy chimpanzees, or Bonobo, the only such group on public display in the United States. And then there are the not-so-rare members of the homo erectus species, who work there as keepers.
Phase II of the “Heart of the Zoo” project was planned to provide a new great-ape facility and to replace the Monkey Quadrangle with the latest in zoo design and construction. But these plans have been shelved by zoo administrators for ambitious projects like the new Kopje exhibit and the Asian rain forest, which are expensive but headline-grabbing.
It is sad that the primates at our zoo, who have our same equipment such as heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. and are closet to man on the evolutionary scale are not living under proper conditions.
The zoo administrators keep putting off, year after year, bringing these facilities up to standard while millions are spent constructing “glitzy” exhibits for a few animals. Thus, over 50 animals, the primates, still go on living under stressful and substandard conditions.
August 25, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Panel votes against auto museum plan; Committee reverses itself, recommends dancers remain in park, by Rita Calvano.
The Balboa Park Committee has boosted the hopes of hundreds of square dancers and others who wish to continue their activities in the park’s Conference Building.
The committee, reversing itself, decided to recommend that the current users of the building remain, setting aside a prior vote favoring an auto museum in the building.
The advisory vote will go to the Park and Recreation Board on August 21, and the final decision will be made by the San Diego City Council.
At least for now, the dancers are in and the museum out.
Balboa Park Committee Chairman Robert Arnhym attributed the vote change to the information provided by the Square Dance Association of San Diego County.
“What we received here in March was an emotional appeal from the dancers,” Arnhym said.
But by the time the matter reached the Park and Recreation Board a few weeks later, the dancers had a plan, Arnhym said.
They told the board how much money they would raise each year and how they would raise it for restoration and maintenance.
Basically, the dancers said they would increase the admission prices at all 28 clubs that are members of the umbrella organization, the Square Dancers Association of San Diego County.
The San Diego Automotive Museum has produced some evidence in March, however, of a financial plan that would allow the organization to restore the Conference Building, Arnhym said.
The city estimates that it would take $300,000 to restore the building, built in the 1930s. Yearly maintenance costs are estimated at $34,000.
Arnhym, a member of the Park and Recreation Board, had recommended that the board take no action but refer the matter back to the Balboa Park Committee because of the dancers’ proposal and because the board had doubts about the museum’s ability to raise the money or get cars donated.
That re-evaluation took place yesterday when the Balboa Park Committee hear presentations by the museum and the dance group detailing their respective financial plans.
Arnhym said that the dancers must have been “sufficiently persuasive” to change the minds of the committee’s majority.
Yesterday’s vote was 8-5. The march vote favoring museum use was 8-6.
Gary Kaine, spokesman for the Square Dance Association, said he was not surprised about the vote reversal.
“We had a lot of valuable information, logic and common sense on our side,” he said.
Kaine said the Square Dance Association could raise about $54,500 a year. One committee member questioned, however, whether that amount could actually be raised and whether all the dancers would abide by an association vote requiring the attendance fee increases.
Kaine said that the clubs obey association directives and so would pay the prices.
As he did at the Park and Recreation Board meeting, Kaine again disputed the automotive museum’s projected attendance. And as before, he insisted that the Conference Building should be kept for the many community groups that now use it, or would wish to use it in the future.
“Basically, Balboa Park is a park for public use,” he said after the meeting. “And to put in a more restricted use like a museum takes things away from the people, who basically own the park.”
But the San Diego Automotive Museum proponents, armed with their own arsenal of information, said that having an auto museum would enhance the park and draw many visitors, be they San Diego residents or tourists, because most people are interested in cars.
Dan Biggs, the museum’s recently elected president, also said that a museum in the Conference Building adheres to the Pekarek Plan, a long-range plan for Balboa Park’s development, yet to be adopted.
But the Pekarek Plan recommends putting museums in the park’s Palisades area, which includes the Conference Building.
Biggs also presented a much stronger financial plan than he had done for the Park and Recreation Board. In it, he outlined donations, pledges of materials, cars, services and cash, as well as donations of cars that totaled $401,000.
“We are for real,” Biggs said. “We have the assets. We will be credible. We will be something the park will be proud of.”
August 26, 1986, San Diego Union, B-9. There’s some good news for monkeys at the Zoo, by Douglas G. Meyers, executive director.
Primate housing at the San Diego Zoo may not be new or even optimal, but it is by no means inadequate, sterile or inhumane.
The Zoological Society trustees and staff have long realized and freely concede that much of our Zoo needs to be modernized. Improvements in living conditions for our primates have been continuous and plans for the ultimate replacement of monkey and great ape facilities are a priority which is well under way.
Still, as they stand now, these primate quarters are not substandard and are, in fact, much better than those of many other zoos.
You published a commentary today (“Zoo needs better primate housing ” . . . ) by a well-intentioned reader who presents a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding to contend other wise.
The most irritating of this writer’s inaccuracies involve her portrayal of our Monkey Quadrangle as sterile, overcrowded and (with) cramped cages.
It is true this exhibit complex was built in the 1930s but the quarters have been upgraded many times since then, with further improvements forthcoming. The individual enclosures now include natural wood climbing structures, netting, swings and playthings.
Several are planted with trees and bushes and several others have hay-covered floors where keepers hide raisins and sunflower seeds for the monkeys to discover throughout the day.
The smallest of these enclosures is more than twice as large as you commentator claimed. Nearly half of the Monkey Quadrangle are four and five times larger than the dimensions suggested in the Union commentary.
There are fewer animals in the Monkey Quadrangle than ever before and great care is taken to maintain each species in a comfortable, not crowded or stressful, social situation. Since reproduction is often taken as a measure of satisfactory surroundings, we can point to the six babies under 8 months old now on the Monkey Quadrangle with a degree of pride.
The factual failings of the Union commentary continue — our holding cages are twice as big as claimed, no monkey has been kept in one for a year at a time, there is no sewer sump in an animal’s bedroom, the monkeys very rarely sleep in the so-called bedrooms, and so on. But what is more disturbing is the allegation that the Zoo staff and trustees are remiss in not doing anything on behalf of our primates.
When Zoological Society leaders took stock of our needs and embarked on a long-range plan for rebuilding the Zoo late in 1983, we determined first of all that the Zoo should be organized into nine climate zones, and, secondly, that our big cat facilities were oldest and most in need of replacement.
Thus, with the gracious and generous gift of Mrs. Joan Kroc, we are constructing a new tropical rain forest with new exhibit areas for tigers and fishing cats.
Next on our construction list is part of Bear Canyon, to be rebuilt as a temperate forest area and to include new housing for our lions and some leopards.
Both of these areas will include some enclosures for primates, by the way. Under the bioclimatic reorganization, the Zoo’s primates will be spread over the appropriate climate zones and the Monkey Quadrangle will eventually be eliminated.
After our big cat enclosures are completed, our next priority is our great apes. If the support of San Diegans and the funding contributions are forthcoming, we could begin construction of new ape facilities in five years.
It is understandably difficult for the layman to grasp the intricacies of building simulated habitats for diverse animals species which serve both the animals and the Zoo visitors well. Each exhibit we build is a pioneering design, accomplished with much planning, an occasional modification, and necessarily a greater expense than a typical human habitation. Our new exhibits are the cutting edge of zoo design, as we feel San Diegans would not be satisfied with an everyday zoo.
The Zoological Society trustees, my staff and I always stand ready to listen to concerns and suggestions from the public or the media. We are eager to explain to all our long-range plan for keeping the San Diego Zoo the world’s best and we want all to understand that we cannot do this without your help.
August 28, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-4. Four snakes stolen in Zoo burglary, by Paul Telles (photo of curator Tom Schultz showing boa similar to those stolen).
A 16-year-old Hillcrest boy found a box of four boa constrictors in Balboa Park and took them home as pets until he realized they were stolen from the San Diego Zoo and returned three of them yesterday, police said.
Burglary Detective Dave Halsey said the boy, who was not identified, found the four boa constrictors near Morley Field after midnight Tuesday and took them home.
His father said he could keep only two of the snakes and had to release the others, Halsey said. Two were freed before the boy’s mother heard a new report of the theft and realized her son might have found the stolen snakes.
The boy and his father went to the place where they had set the two snakes loose and could find only one of them, Halsey said. They then took the snakes back to the zoo.
The four snakes were stolen from the Zoo Tuesday. Two other snakes and two chameleons taken during the last week may now be for sale as pets, officials say.
“If somebody tries to sell you a snake, you should call the police hotline,” said zoo spokeswoman Georgeanne Irvine. The police number is 235-TIPS.
Irvine said that after the zoo closed yesterday employees saw a man and a boy outside the gate holding a big paper bag.
The man said, “I think we’ve found your snakes,” Irvine said.
The man said his son and a friend were riding bikes in Florida Canyon on Morley Field Drive late Tuesday when they saw the snake-filled box sticking out of the bushes.
Irvine said the thieves apparently planned to retrieve the box later. She also said the youths are not suspects in the theft, adding that zoo employees are looking for the fourth snake.
Employees discovered early yesterday that the four boas had been stolen from the patio of the zoo’s Reptile House, Irvine said. The theft led officials to conclude that two constrictors and two Jackson’s chameleons which vanished from the Children’s Zoo last week also had been stolen, she said.
The 30-inch snakes are native to Southern California and western Arizona, are frequently kept as pets and are worth $75 to $125 each, Irvine said. The snakes are chocolate-brown with a rosy tint, she said.
Two of the four stolen Tuesday night were females that were used in a breeding experiment and were probably gravid, the reptilian equivalent of pregnant, Irvine said. The snakes are “very, very docile,” she added.
The chameleons are about 10 inches long and are native to Africa. They are bright green but can turn a blackish green when upset. They are worth about $100 each, Irvine said.
The thieves who stole the snakes Tuesday night apparently cut a hole in the northeast part of the zoo’s fence, near the koala exhibit, Irvine said. They climbed the roof of the Reptile House and dropped onto the patio.
“They did know specifically what they were looking for and where they were kept,” Irvine said.
The thieves broke into the Turtletorium, which is attached to another building were rosy boas are kept, but they were not able to steal more snakes, Irvine said.
August 28, 1986, San Diego Tribune, D-1, D-6. Architect Don Goldman creates new recreation center on Adams Avenue.
August 29, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-12. Letter, Balboa Park needs a new master plan, by Richard Amero.
Until such time as the city of San Diego adopts a new master plan for Balboa Park, the city should refrain from endorsing vast new projects and capital expenditures for the park.
The plan to shift recreational facilities in Balboa Park to Morley Field suggested in the 1957 Citizens’ Study should be re-examined. IT made sense in 1936 to turn the vacant Palisades buildings into a recreational complex, and the idea still may make sense in 1986.
We should look to experts in public recreation, not landscape architects nor appointees to park and recreation boards for an assessment of San Diego’s recreational needs.
A final plan for the park should be reviewed by a consultant in sociology and recreation before it is passed on to the city council for adoption. The city of Los Angeles did this when it hired sociologist Galen Granz to comment on the many plans for Pershing Square.
Proposals for an automobile museum in an enlarged Conference Building, for an Olympic training village on the old Naval Hospital site, for an open-air theater in Florida Canyon, and for a new road on the east side of Cabrillo Canyon have an impact on other proposals for Balboa Park.
Whatever is done to the Conference Building is going to affect the landscape, traffic and parking in the park and the security and success of other comparable or competing projects. Inevitably, public money is going to be used for the upkeep and operation of new museums and facilities as it is used for old, no matter how many promises that future museum proponents make to the contrary.
It is tragic to keep giving Balboa Park away to restrictive, non-park interests when the citizens of San Diego have fought so log and hard to maintain its integrity.
August 29, 1986, San Diego Union, B-13. Letter, Who does the Park & Recreation Board serve?, by E. W. Merris, San Diego.
I wish to express my extreme concern about the action by the Park and Recreation Board. Who are they really serving?
The original concept of Balboa Park was a park for all the people. It is becoming a haven for special interest groups, who gobble up park buildings for their particular fantasy.
Proponents of the auto museum serve a singular group. This area could no longer be used by the general public for other varied activities. These proponents are a powerful and influential group and it would be well within their means to buy and construct their own building and leave te park to the people.
As we look forward to the future, will we see the board decide to slam shut a new set of gates to the entire park, requiring citizens to purchase tickets to enter the general area of the park, plus a fee at the entrance of every activity?
Now is the time to call a halt to this direction and keep the remaining part of the park for the general public.
August 29, 1986, San Diego Union, D-18. Ballroom dancers at Balboa Park Club learn all the moves.
People in the know meet at the Balboa Park Club Building on Friday and Sunday evenings to swing to the sounds of taped big-band music.
August 30, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1, B-8. Zoo plans to ease paths for disabled, by Gina Lubrano.
The intent of the redesign is to integrate disabled visitors to the Zoo with the general population. Many of the improvements — shaded rest areas, low barriers and the people moving system for the canyons — would benefit non-disabled as well.
August ?, 1986, San Diego Tribune, D-1, D-2. “Free days” are costly according to Arthur Oilman, director of Museum of Photographic Arts: “Given the fact that the local government does not take in money for purposes of cultural implementation, there’s no reason why we should be expected to give away our services,” by Mark Elliott Lugo.
September 6, 1986, San Diego Tribune, C-1. Automotive Museum in Balboa Park gaining favor, by Jeff Ristine.
A yearly fiesta by the square-dance group, which uses several Balboa Park facilities, could be staged at Plaza Hall or another facility in the downtown Convention and Performing Arts Center, Assistant City Manager John Lockwood said.
September 6, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Public Facilities & Recreation Committee postponed decision on Automotive Museum, by Lisa Petrillo.
September 6, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. City Manager’s office recommended Conference building be turned into a car museum, by Michael Abrams.
September 7, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-2. Letter, Free Balboa Park, by E. R. Kapalis, San Diego.
In a recent editorial, you suggested that important decisions would be made very soon regarding the future of Balboa Park. You referred to the controversy between dancers and backers of a proposed automotive museum.
In your opinion, the crux of the matter is tourism versus providing facilities for residents. Apparently, your staff failed to research the issues or overlooked the fact that half of all users of the park are local residents — that in 1985, 6.5 million people paid admissions to the zoo and the museums, and almost two-thirds of them were San Diego residents. In 1985, there was a 12.5% increase in attendance at those attractions in Balboa Park.
As to the dancers, the square dancers use the Conference Building in Balboa Park one night out of the month. The cloggers use it Sundays. They are not being asked to leave the park, only to use alternate facilities within the park that are more suitable to their limited activities.
The Conference Building is one of a number of deteriorating buildings that the city can’t afford to restore. The automotive museum proposes to absorb more than $300,000 in rehabilitation costs and the annual maintenance required for a vastly under-utilized building.
In 1984, the Conference Building was used 39 times by 13 different organizations, many of whom no longer use that building for their one-day events. Balboa Park is a precious resource . . . to precious to be held captive by a small band of freeloaders who are clogging the issues.
September 7, 1986, San Diego Union, F-45. Honey-locust tree picked for Organ Pavilion for coloring and aesthetic value, by Dale Ward.
Before the new trees could be planted at the restored Spreckels Organ Pavilion, all the existing vegetation has to be removed and major construction was needed. The city salvaged the old olive trees, the towering queen palms were transplanted and the saved many of the junipers. The new trees did not come until eight months later.
Effort was put into the selection of just the right type of tree. The tree of choice was honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos inermis. This decision came about as a collaborative one. Dave Roberts, former deputy director in charge of Balboa Park management, along with Ron Pekarek, a local landscape architect of the Pekarek Group who developed the projects’ conceptual plans, chose the honey locust.
To commemorate the grant reopening of the 71-year old Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a ceremony will be held October 5. The public is welcome. The Committee of 100 is the host. Olson Construction Company expects the project to be finished on time so the Balboa Park officials can show it on a tour in late September to the members of the National Managers Association Conference.
September 11, 1986, READER, 8. Inside Story – Land-use decisions being made without guidance of a park master plan, by Paul Krueger.
September 11, 1986, San Diego Tribune, A-2. Balboa Park Puppet Theater to be called “Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.”
September 11, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-2. Council delays Tecolote Canyon protection-rule package., by Jeff Ristine.
September 11, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-12. Public Facilities & Recreation Committee postponed decision on Automotive Museum until November 12, by Rita Calvano.
September 11, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Decision on car museum postponed, by Lisa Petrillo.
September 14, 1986, San Diego Union, F-9. Drive to rebuild Balboa Stadium continues (photo).
September 15, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-3. Balboa Park endowment fund is richer by about $275,000 in donations, by Rita Calvano.
Helen Monroe, the foundation’s executive director, said only minor purchases such as picnic tables and benches can be made now, because only the interest — now about $25,000 a year — can be spent.
September 16, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-6. EDITORIAL: Planning ahead for Balboa Park use.
Wisely, a San Diego City Council committee has delayed until November 12 the possibility, however remote, that angry cloggers will be dancing across the roofs of vintage cars in a Balboa Park building that both dancers and antique-car enthusiasts covet.
The Public Facilities and Recreation Committee voted 5-0 last week in favor of postponing a vote on the fate of the Conference Building, thus giving the Park and Recreation Department time to prepare lists of possible alternative sites for both groups.
We have expressed our support of the cloggers’ continued use of the building, believing that community use of park facilities should take precedence over a special interest. But as Councilwoman Judy McCarty and Abbe Wolfsheimer pointed out, now is not the time to vote on any significant change in park use, because the city has a new park master plan under consideration.
The council is expected to being looking at the proposed plan within the next four months. Major decisions then will have to be made about how best to use and preserve the precious natural resource in our midst. Through public discussion — and debate — we look forward to a consensus emerging on basic Balboa Park issues, a consensus that will help us resolve potential conflicts between users.
September 16, 1986, San Diego Union, B-7. Letter, Parks are for People!, by Enid Cyphert.
Let’s tell the Park and Recreation Board and the city manager, who have approved the developer’s plan to create an auto museum in Balboa Park, that we’re mad and we’re not going to take it any more!
September 19, 1986, San Diego Tribune, A-1. City mulls purchase of three closed campuses in the San Diego Unified School District as parkland sites.
September 19, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-9. Private dollars needed to fund Balboa Park, by Philip Klauber.
. . . San Diego Community Foundation has established a Balboa Park Fund with a goal of $10 million to provide for the future of our beautiful park.
September 19, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3. Conservationists, developers line up behind Proposition D, a proposed land swap to expand an open-space preserve and also provide more land for commercial development by Michael Abrams.
September 20, 1986, San Diego Union, B-6. Park & Recreation Board wants to use $2.65 million from state parkland bond issue passed in June to restore and refurbish parts of Balboa Park.
September 21, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-2. Commentary – A Balboa Park Automotive Museum would appeal to every car lover, by Dan Biggs, president of Biggs Engineering in Old Town and president of the San Diego Automotive Museum.
(The Conference) Building costs us taxpayers $34,000 annually, yet it is far from being utilized to its full potential.
The San Diego Automotive Museum not only has the means but the expertise and commitment to immediately begin restoring this building to its 1935 beauty.
September 23, 1986, San Diego Tribune, D-4. Music Foundation drops plan to rebuilt House of Charm, by Mark Elliott Lugo.
Taking the local arts community by surprise, the Musical Arts Foundation has decided not to seek a one-year extension of a three-year lease option of the House of Charm in Balboa Park.
The move reflects the abandoning of foundation fund-raising efforts, which, if successful, would have financed the $7 million cost of rebuilding the decaying, city-owned structure and establishing a 60,000-square foot Musical Arts Museum there.
Representatives of the San Diego Art Institute were elated at the unexpected turn of events. The institute, a 550-member, nonprofit artists organization and gallery, has occupied the House of Charm for the past 33 years, and its members regard the location — a busy corner across the street from the San Diego Museum of Art — as crucial to its survival.
The foundation’s decision was made official yesterday afternoon at a City Council meeting, during which the council unanimously agreed to accept the foundation’s withdrawal from the project. At the time, the council was to have voted on the foundation’s request for the lease option extension; a vote originally scheduled for August 4 but delayed seven weeks by a last-minute plea from the institute.
Using the added time, the institute had hoped to come up with a plan of its own to transform the House of Charm into a modern visual arts complex occupied by non-profit visual art organizations.
Ultimately, though neither the Musical Arts Foundation nor the San Diego Art Institute could put together a financial package to pay for the cost of rebuilding the House of Charm.
During the past three years, the foundation received a $1 million challenge grant from a private donor and an additional $1 million commitment from the Committee of 100, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Balboa Park’s Spanish Colonial-style architecture. Ideally, said foundation chairman Joseph W. Hibben, last month, the balance would be contributed by a single donor, a small family group, a foundation or a private corporation that would erect the building as a monument to someone in the family or to the family.
In a phone interview last night, Hibben said the foundation’s decision was dictated by the “uncertainty and confusion” surrounding the current situation. “We’ve worked hard on it,” Hibben continued, “but there are new ideas developing. New people want to try.” He added, “Their ideas might work.”
The foundation’s vice chairman, Harold B. Williams, viewed the council’s granting the institute’s request for a continuance seven weeks ago as an indication that the council favored the institute’s plan. “It would be foolish of us to stand in their way,” Williams said.
With three year’s notice, why did the institute wait so long before trying to formulate a plan of its own? Carl Mikeman, institute spokesman, explained, “We assumed that there was nothing we could do about the Musical Arts Foundation proposal. As far as we knew, it was cut and dried.”
But he emphasized, the institute is a lot more serious about a rebuilding plan now than it was a couple of years ago.
Shortly after the council delayed its vote on the foundation’s lease-option request, the institute began soliciting proposals from nonprofit visual arts organizations. If enough of them committed $80 per square foot to reconstruct the House of Charm, institute board members said they believed the building would remain visual arts oriented. Few solid proposals materialized by the September 14 deadline.
The possibility of sharing the facility with both the foundation and the institute was also explored, but members of the foundation were not enthusiastic about the idea.
Now that the institute has a reprieve on the loss of its House of Charm quarters, Mikeman vows to prepare a funding and marketing package within the next 90 days. Local bank, corporation and federal historical funds will be sought to restore the building and create a visual arts complex.
September 23, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3. Councilwoman Judy McCarty asks bond issue next year for park buildings.
September 26, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-3. Facelift for Balboa Park buildings?; the Public Services and Safety Committee this week asked the city manager’s office to consider the idea of a bond issue to raise money , by Jeff Ristine.
Councilman Uvaldo Martinez, however, said a better solution would be to create a reserve fund from hotel-tax revenues.
September 27, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3. Organ Pavilion work nearly done, by George Flynn.
Minor chores are all that remain to be done in the seven-year, $1.1 million restoration of the 71-year old landmark.
September 29, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3. Richard Bundy, new Natural History Museum president, looks at “bigger picture,” by Kristine Moe.
One of his goals is to make considerable progress in the next two years on a major fund-raising campaign for a planned five-story building for the society’s research and education staff. It would be east of the cramped structure.
September 30, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-3. After-school recreation program to start again; San Diego City Council has approved reinstating after-school recreation programs at 48 schools throughout the city.
September 30, 1986, San Diego Tribune, A-1. The Zoo turns 70 this week and what a story it makes, by Rita Calvano.
The zoo will celebrate from Thursday through Sunday. Zoo admission is free to children 15 and under throughout October. It is free to everyone Sunday.
September 30, 1986, San Diego Union, A-9. Judge ruled Dearborn’s law barring non-residents from parks illegal; enacted to keep blacks out of the suburb.
September 30, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3. Aerospace Museum can spread wings with tax relief; museum exempted from 6 percent sales tax for exhibit purchases, by Ron Roach.
October 3, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Proposal to use empty park buildings to ease jail overcrowding is weighed by Presiding Municipal Judge Frederick L. Link; suggestion came from a letter from Navy widow Marion E. Ivy of Mission Hills, by Mike Konon.
October 4, 1986, San Diego Union, E-1. Bash, bands will ring in “new” Organ Pavilion tomorrow at a rededication ceremony staged by the Committee of 100 which initiated the restoration efforts and helped raise the funds by Welton Jones (illus.).
October 5, 1986, San Diego Union, C-2. EDITORIAL: Seven-year restoration of Spreckels Organ Pavilion, return to elegance.
With its new look, booming organ, and 2,200-person capacity, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is a San Diego treasure that enhances the diversity of Balboa Park.
October 5, 1986, San Diego Union, F-17, F-18. Restored Organ Pavilion to be rededicated today, by Roger Showley.
In 1980, the first phase — restoration of the central building housing the world’s largest outdoor organ — was completed at a cost of $270,000. The Committee of 100 raised much of the money itself from public and private sources and paid for all of the separate $100,000 cost to restore the organ.
Three years later, Phase 2, restoration of the two-wing colonnade, cost $621,000.
Now, the final and most costly phase — just another $900,000 — has not only resulted in much-needed repairs but also improved on the original seating area.
The latest phase involved construction work by Olson Construction Co., landscape design by the Pekarek Group and engineering by Nolte and Associates.
Now, 142,000 paving stones, each 3 inches thick, have replaced the asphalt.
Instead of wooden benches, 614 sleek, steel mesh tan benches, weighing 79 pounds each, have been installed.
Overgrown juniper trees and other dense landscaping have given away to flowers and honey locust trees, each planted with decorative grills at their trunk bases.
The retaining wall has been rebuilt with stones and surfacing.
A pump (in the fountain installed at the time of the 1935-36 California-Pacific Exposition, now keeps the water flowing and the concrete base has been rebuilt.
Perhaps the most notable change to the pavilion has been the addition of a terraced area at the north end.
October 6, 1986, San Diego Union, D-1. San Diego Zoo Hall of Fame, by Barbara Moran (illus)
Carol . . . 9,000 lb. elephant, star of stage and screen
Albert the Great . . . lowland gorilla, died in 1978
Goolara . . albino koala, born September 1985
Kakowet . . . pigmy chimpanzee, lived at zoo from 1960-1980
Ken Allen . . . Zoo-born Bornean orangutan and escape artist
Chester . . . Alaskan brown bear, died August 1985
Dudley Duplex . . . longest surviving two-headed snake on record
Arusha and Anna . . . Anna, a Golden retriever, and Arusha, a cheetah
King Tut . . . salmon-crested cockatoo and the zoo’s “official greeter”
Fig (or ficus) tree . . . in Dryer Flamingo Lagoon
October 7, 1986, San Diego Union, B-3. Doors opened for free 70th birthday party at San Diego Zoo.
With a crowd drawn by free admission to celebrate its 70th birthday, the San Diego Zoo enjoyed the largest attendance in its history.
More than 38,500 people went, topping the record set May 1, 1965 — the day the owners of the Jack In the Box fast-foot restaurant chain paid everyone’s way in and gave out free certificates for hamburgers.
Last year, even though admission was free, as it is every Founder’s Day, 21,300 people showed up.
It was so crowded yesterday that the parking lot was closed almost as soon as the Zoo opened at 9 a.m. Both the California Highway Patrol and Police Department had to send officials to deal with all the cars.
The entrance to state Route 163 was blocked for a while to keep the heavy traffic from choking the highway.
Emergency vehicles had difficulty cutting through the stream of cars on Park Boulevard. There were two medical emergencies at the Zoo; one person had an heart problem and another suffered a seizure. In addition, one man who was being thrown out for being drunk and disorderly, fell and cut his head, said Jean Gertmenian of the Zoo.
For the record crowd, there was a 25-foot inflatable birthday cake and a giant birthday card for everyone to sign. So many wanted to sign, in fact, that the Zoo had to hang up another huge sheet of paper to accommodate them.
Although the Zoo’s birthday party was yesterday, yesterday was not its birthday. The anniversary of the founding — the day the Zoological Society met — was October 2, but the Zoo prefers to celebrate Founder’s Day on the first Monday in October.
October 10, 1986, San Diego Union, B-2. Expanded Jewish Center near La Jolla hailed as recreational, cultural asset, by R. B. Brenner.
October 13, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1, B-7. Foes foresee Automotive Museum as showroom, by Lisa Petrillo.
If the San Diego Automotive Museum wins the long bitter fight for a piece of Balboa Park, the precious real estate may come with a secondary prize, money.
Such a museum could give donors large tax deductions, breaks in insurance costs and a free forum for selling their rare cars, according to financial experts and critics of the proposed facility.
October 17, 1986, San Diego Union, B-15, Letter, Display vehicles in Automotive Museum will not do much for owner’s finances; selling cars by displaying them in a museum is a bizarre idea, by Burt D. Quackenbush.
October 17, 1986, San Diego Union, D-3. John M. & Sally B. Thornton Foundation gives $1.0 million to San Diego Museum of Art.
Last year, their foundation underwrote the exhibition, “American Masters: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
October 18, 1986, San Diego Union, B-10. EDITORIAL: Endowing Art – San Diego Museum of Art officials have just begun an $8.0 million endowment drive.
October 31, 1986, San Diego Tribune, A-1. Planners endorse “paseo” to link Balboa Park, bay, by Sharon Spivak.
While city planner John Nolen envisioned an east-west link of the park and bay between Date and Elm streets, the city now would study a north-south tied along Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
October 31, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-2. Committee of 100’s efforts to keep Balboa Park beautiful, by Nancy Scott Anderson.
The group works as advocates within the national, state, county and city framework for restoring and maintaining historically significant buildings. This means pushing bond issues, sniffing out matching funding and, in some cases, writing checks.
October 31 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-2. Three-day Square Dance Fiesta beginning November 7 in Conference Building; 36th year the event has been held in Balboa Park..
October 31, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Pathway tying park, bay urged, by Lori Weisberg.
Clearly the most expensive element of the plan — and probably the most important — is a proposal to span I-5 between Balboa Park’s Marston Point and Cortez Hill to the south with a pedestrian bridge, roughly two city blocks-wide.
The bridge would have the bonus of providing much-need parking by including two or three levels of up to 1,000 parking spaces constructed underneath it.
November 1, 1986, San Diego Tribune, C-3. EDITORIAL: Rallying ‘round the Museum of Art.
Art is a reflection of the soul. Its display reveals the city’s collective spirit.
Given those truths, it is evident that, ultimately, art not only enriches a community, it defines it.
So does support for the arts.
The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park is now engaged in its first endowment campaign. It hopes to double the size of the present endowment from $8 million to $16 million during the next two years. It’s a campaign this community can ill afford to ignore.
Members of the museum’s board of trustees have set an impressive example by pledging $4 million. Two benefactors, John and Sally Thornton, have demonstrated their generous commitment by donating $1 million through their foundation.
The Thornton’s individual generosity and the collective commitment of the trustees should serve as a rallying cry to the rest of the community.
The San Diego Museum of Art contains an important collection of art, spanning 5,000 years of culture. Recently, it treated us to the whimsy of Dr. Seuss and the stark vision of Oskar Schlemmer.
Those shows traveled on, but the standing collection the museum has built in its 60-year history is also strong and includes Renaissance, Baroque, 19th and 20th-century paintings and sculpture and a sample of Asian and Meso-American works.
Right now, admission fees are reasonable. They range from $4 for adults to no charge for children under 6. Discounts for seniors, military students and older children are provided.
But despite 405,000 visitors last year, admission revenues covered only 15 percent of the museum’s budget. The “donations box” near the main desk was virtually ignored, garnering exactly $932 for the entire year. Clearly, more support is needed.
The current campaign gives San Diego a chance to show it truly has the quality of spirit display in its name at the museum each day.
November 9, 1986, San Diego Union, C-2. EDITORIAL: Funding a dream – “paseo” between Balboa Park and the waterfront.
By allocating hotel room-tax revenue, redevelopment funds, and revenue from other sources, including the parking facility, the city could make Mr. Nolen’s 80-year-old dream come true.
November 10, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Scheduling curbs loom with Automotive Museum plan; what would be effects of relocating Conference Building activities on groups in that building and other buildings where space might be shared with current Conference Building users?, by Rita Calvano.
No organized groups will be forced out of Balboa Park, but some will have fewer meeting dates, or less space.
November 12, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-4. Public Facilities & Recreation Committee balks at backing Balboa Park Automotive Museum, kicks issue to full Council without a recommendation, by Rita Calvano.
November 13, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-10. EDITORIAL: Maintain our municipal legacy; put all four bond issues on ballot — Balboa Ark, Mission Bay, a new library, and a police communication center.
Balboa Park and Mission Bay are San Diego. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine “America’s Finest City” without these distinguishing features, these precious natural resources. San Diegans have a special responsibility to maintain their municipal legacy — to ensure, for example, that the historic buildings along the Balboa Park Prado remain in good condition, that Mission Bay be kept free of toxic runoff and silt.
Fulfilling our responsibility to these municipal treasures is not always easy, in part because of the budget limits of Proposition 13, In this ear of frugality, there’s enough in the budget to keep up Balboa Park landscaping, but not enough for a major building renovation. There’s enough to deal with an occasional sewage or silt crisis in Mission Bay, but not enough for the more permanent solutions to its contamination problem.
The council has grand plans for a new central library and no solid plan for financing its construction. The Police Department says it needs a new radio communication center so it can respond to crimes more quickly. Yet it would take millions to build one.
These are all worthy projects. And City Manager John Lockwood wants to give the city’s taxpayers a chance to decide whether they want to pay for them. In a sweeping and farsighted proposal, Lockwood is asking the City Council to put $152 million worth of bond issues on the November 1987 citywide ballot.
Proposition 13 forbade this type of bond issue until last June, when a state ballot measure allowed local voters to approve them with a two-thirds majority. While an alert Lockwood has pounced on this new financing opportunity, he still has his work cut out for him. Getting a two-thirds majority vote for anything short of motherhood, as the expert observers like to note, is pretty darn hard.
The newly appointed city manager, fortunately has some excellent programs to sell the voters. Rather than appearing in a single, all-or-nothing package, Lockwood says the Balboa Park Mission Bay, library and police communications center bond issues would have to appear as four separate ballot measures. Although campaigning for one measure might have been simpler, uncoupling the programs at least would offer voters a chance to pick and choose.
The Balboa Park measure, for instance, is especially worthwhile. The $36-million bond issue would be used to rebuild the aging House of Hospitality and the House of Charm and improve museums along the Prado. Lockwood also hopes that a new municipal gym could be built in the Morley Field Sports Complex. The old “muni” gym would be renovated for square dancers and others who now use the Conference Building nearby. The Conference Building then would be freed for a proposed Auto Museum. Lockwood describes this park plan as a “win, win, win situation,” and so do we.
Lockwood also showed commendable foresight in suggesting a $65-million bond issue for a new central library. The council has committed itself to building one, but it has hung itself up on where to put it. Lockwood is one step ahead of them. He realizes that wherever the new library goes, the money is going to have to come from somewhere — and he believes a bond issue is the best solution. We hope the voters will agree.
Lockwood’s 30 year’s experience in city government is reflected in his ambitious plan, his first major proposal since becoming city manager. He shows a keen understanding of this city’s needs. But we need to start on a library now, not in 1988.
The council should back him and promptly agree to put all four bond issues on the ballot. Balboa Park, Mission Bay, a new library, and a police communications center are eminently worthy projects. They deserve farsighted leadership.
November 13, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Poll – large majority supports bond issue to upgrade Balboa, Mission Bay Parks.
November 13, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Park, bay bond issue advances; Public Facilities & Recreation Committee backs vote on $70 million bond election next November to pay for major renovations to Balboa Park and Mission Bay, by George Flynn.
November 13, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Public Facilities and Recreation Committee puts off Automotive Museum decision, by George Flynn.
A report by Deputy City Manager Jack McGrory recommended that the city turn the building over to the San Diego Automotive Museum next July 1.
November 14, 1986, San Diego Union, B-9. Sculptor R. Vargas dead at 82; created figures for Christmas scenes displayed at Balboa Park’s Organ Pavilion.
November 15, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-2. Letters protesting uprooting Exposition Park’s rose garden in Los Angeles to make room for a massive parking lot.
November 15, 1986, San Diego Union, B-14. EDITORIAL: Park Bonds for Balboa Park, Mission Bay on November 1986 ballot.
The $36 million issue for Balboa Park would finance major reconstruction of historic buildings, construction of a new gymnasium at Morley Field and a public transportation system to east traffic and parking problems.
November 16, 1986, San Diego Union, F-40. You can help to record Balboa Park’s botanical wonders, by Dale Ward.
Three years ago landscape architect Paul Mahalic started this task force along with Bob Ward, assistant horticulturist at the San Diego Zoo, and Neal Matthews, a writer for The Reader. Their mission . . . to catalogue Balboa Park’s unique plantings and significant landscape features and to encourage development of a long-range horticultural preservation plan for the park.
November 20, 1986, READER, 8. Inside Story – San Diego voters haven’t approved a general obligation bond issue since 1966; Councilman Struiksma advocates paying for park improvements by increasing Transient Occupancy Tax, by Paul Krueger.
November 20, 1986, San Diego Union, B-10. EDITORIAL: Room for everyone – the park has adequate facilities to accommodate those who now use the Conference Building.
There is one important fact the City Council should remember next month when it decides whether to lease the Balboa Park Conference Building to the San Diego Automotive Museum. The park has adequate facilities to accommodate both the museum and the square dancers, cloggers, handicapped athletes and others who now use the Conference Building.
The proposed automotive museum would be an ideal complement to its nearest neighbor, the San Diego Aerospace Museum. Moreover, museum officials are committed to restoring the 51-year-old building to its 1935 glory, at a cost of more than $300,000.
Planning for a Balboa Park automotive museum began in 1980 when the City Council approved the concept of a Conference Center museum. Four years later, the council reaffirmed its earlier decision. To say “no” now would be terribly unfair to the museum and its supporters.
What’s more the auto museum has pledged $35,000 to finance improvements to other Balboa Park buildings where the dancers, disabled and other displaced groups will relocate. Granted some of these groups will have to move to smaller, less-desirable facilities, at least for a time. But none will be without a home in Balboa Park unless it chooses to be. And if voters approve a planned 1987 bond issue for Balboa Park improvements, these groups could find themselves in better, more expansive quarters within a few years.
The San Diego Automotive Museum would be a worthwhile addition to the Balboa Park museum complex. We urge the City Council to lease the Conference Building to the museum, with the proviso that its present users all be provided other facilities within the park.
December 3, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-4. Body of woman found in park is identified as Cindy Louise Jones, a transient, age 25.
December 7, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II-2. Letter, Car Museum Issue – people’s needs should outweigh another museum, by Gary Kaine.
The City Council will finally vote on this issue next Monday. We firmly believe that all the financial and philosophical arguments support the current users. Therefore, the council should reject the car museum and maintain the unique and wonderful balance that has benefited the public for so many years.
December 9, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II, 1, 4, 5. Supporters of Automotive Museum suffer a puncture, by Armando Acuna.
The nearly seven-year effort to create an automotive museum in Balboa Park received another setback Monday when a short-handed San Diego City Council deadlocked 4-4 on the matter.
The museum, which is seeking a “free’ 25-year lease from the city would be required to spend about $257,000 to improve the Conference Building by painting it and putting on a new roof. Also, the museum association would later be required to build a $2-million to $3-million building next to the Conference Building.
And though the museum would pay the city $34,000 a year to cover maintenance costs, it would also receive more than $80,000 annually from the city’s transit occupancy tax after it is in operation for four years.
December 9, 1986, San Diego Union, B-1. Split Council vote stalls Automotive Museum, by Lori Weisberg.
Deputy City Manager Jack McGrory acknowledged that to approve the museum lease would eventually cost the city at least $75,000 more a year because of an anticipated subsidy from hotel-motel room tax revenue to help finance operation of the facility.
December 12, 1986, San Diego Tribune, 1, 9. San Diego Planning Commission voted to recommend keeping only three of forty two old Naval Hospital buildings the city will acquire in 1988, by Rita Calvano.
After hearing more testimony yesterday on what to do with the buildings in Balboa Park, the commission voted 5-1 to recommend that the city council get rid of most of them.
December 12, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-8. John C. Leppert named as “Czar” of Mission Bay and Balboa Park.
He was selected yesterday by San Diego City Manager John Lockwood to fill the newly created $61,000-a-year position of management assistant beginning Monday.
In his new job, he’ll oversee traffic maintenance and other day-to-day operations in the aquatic park and the city’s largest park [sic].
December 17, 1986, Los Angeles Times. San Diego City Council okays Automotive Museum after Councilmen Jones flops vote, favors lease, by Nancy Ray.
A seven-year battle to put an auto museum in Balboa Park ended in victory Tuesday when the San Diego City Council — by a one-vote margin — agreed to sign a lease with the museum backers to give them the Conference Building in January, 1988.
The year’s delay, to help current users of the building to relocate, was the price negotiated by Councilman William Jones for changing his vote from “nay” to “yes.”
Jones said the additional time will allow a more thorough search for alternate meeting sites for dance groups, handicapped athletes, Ping-Pong players and a dozen other organizations that have called the barn of a building their recreational home for decades.
Don Biggs, president of the San Diego Automotive Museum, balked at the delay, which has already threatened to cost the museum a number of proffered displays from other museums and some loan commitments.
However, after Jones made it clear that he could not vote for the 25-year lease unless the year’s delay was included, Biggs and attorney James Milch conceded that the project could move ahead with the delay.
After the vote, Biggs said the museum association will immediately move to sign a lease with the city “within the next few days,” so that major donors can write their checks during the 1986 tax year and avoid the stricter law on donations that goes into effect in January.
Mayor Maureen O’Connor, who voted against the lease, argued that the action should be postponed until after November’s special bond election to finance Balboa Park improvements, including new quarters for the recreational groups displayed by the auto museum.
“This is a matter of timing,” O’Connor argued. “A lot of people are not going to support us on the bond vote,” she warned. “This (approval of the lease) will pit one group against the other.”
Newly appointed Councilwoman Celia Ballesteros was sworn in last week after the council had split 4-5 on the lease — a tie vote that gave a temporary victory to the groups now using the museum but required, under council rules, that the issue be brought up for consideration again this week.
But the apparent victory of the recreational groups over the auto museum backers was short-lived. Jones began questioning Biggs about amending the lease to gain concessions and additional time, indicating that he might change his vote of the lease terms were modified. In the final vote, Jones, Councilman Bill Cleator, Mike Gotch and Ed Struiksma backed the museum. O’Connor, Ballesteros, Councilwomen Judy McCarty and Abbe Wolfsheimer backed the dancers and others who wanted to retain the building for their recreational pursuits.
City Manager John Lockwood recommended approval of the auto museum and proposed a relocation plan that would move the various groups now using the Conference Building to sites in other parts of the park. Lockwood admitted that the moves would curtail some of the groups’ activities and “inconvenience” organizations forced to share their park quarters with the displaced Conference Building groups.
However, he said, if a proposed bond issue passes next November, additional
facilities could be built and operating by 1990 or ’91.
Disappointed dancers and athletes filed out of the council chambers after the vote, vowing that they would fight eviction, whenever it came.
Most of the groups will find new quarters except for a group of folk dancers who wear wooded clogs. The cloggers require a large cement and tile floor for their performances and the only one in Balboa Park is in the Conference Building.
Museum officials have agreed to spend more than $250,000 to refurbish the 1930s-era building, erected for the Pan-American Exposition of 1915 [sic]. A new stucco exterior, roof repairs and other exterior improvements can be made without displacing the present activities in the old building, Biggs said.
Also required of the museum forces under the lease is construction of a $2-million to $3-million addition of 36,000 square feet.
Besides display of 100 or more antique and unusual autos, the museum will include a gift shop, an automotive reference library, and a restoration and repair shop.
December 17, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1, B-7. Automotive Museum gets green light, by Rita Calvano.
The lease agreement between the city and the museum means the museum must renovate the Conference Building for an estimated $257,000 and pay $34,000 in annual maintenance fees.
It will also be expected to pay for some changes that could include a new floor in the Balboa Park Club where the handicapped hockey teams and some of the dancers will be relocated unless other accommodations are found.
And 90 days from now the museum must submit proof to the city that potential contributors have made good on their pledge to donate what car museum president Dan Biggs said is about $134,000 in cash.
Gary Kaine, spokesman for the San Dance Association of San Diego, said, “It’s a real shame that we had a change in one vote’ otherwise, we would have won. I think it’s a sign that at least the majority of the council at this point in time really is not for the people of San Diego staying in the park.”
December 17, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-1. Park & Recreation Board to review Balboa Park Master Plan at its meeting tomorrow, ending 19-month wait, by Rita Calvano.
Pekarek has proposed garages to alleviate many of the current parking problems. But the environmental impact report by PRC engineering in San Diego says parking garages do not belong in the park. The report was completed last June and has since been under study by city staff.
The report said garages would obstruct the views and perhaps discourage San Diegans from visiting the park because they would cost money, adding to the number of park activities, such as museums, that generally require an admission fee.
December 17, 1986, San Diego Tribune, E-5. Timken Gallery acquires “Castine Harbor and Town” by Fitz Hugh Lane, by Mark Elliott Lugo.
Lane, who had little formal training in art other than as an apprentice with a Boston lithography firm, is known to have produced approximately 150 paintings, including shore scenes, ship portraits and harbor views, landscapes, a few portraits, parade decorations and two naval engagements of the War of 1812.
December 17, 1986, San Diego Union, December 17, 1986, A-1. City Council okays Automotive Museum, by Lori Weisberg.
The effect of yesterday’s 5-4 vote . . . was to simply delay for six months the inevitable relocation of the groups now using the Conference Building for their activities.
Deputy City Manager Jack McGrory told Councilman William Jones (the swing vote) it was unlikely that the could provide the council with a solution any better than the one already recommended.
December 18, 1986, San Diego Union, C-7. Timken pays $1.25 million for 19th century painting by Fitz Hugh Lane, by Robert L. Pincus.
“Castine Harbor and Town,” a painting by 19th century American artist Fitz Hugh Lane, has been acquired by the Timken Art Gallery.
The painting is now on view in the room housing the Balboa Park gallery’s American collection. It was purchased with funds from the Putnam Foundation, which own and operates the gallery.
The painting adds to what is clearly the finest local collection of historical American art. It joins John Singleton Copley’s grand manner portrait of “Mrs. Thomas Gage” (1771) and distinguished works by Albert Bierstadt, Martin Johnson Heade, Eastman Johnson and others.
Nancy Petersen, the gallery’s director, said she had hoped the Timken would purchase the painting in 1982 when it became available for the first time from New York’s Berry-Hill Gallery. But the board of directors of the Putnam Foundation rejected its $900,000 price tag as exorbitant.
When it became available again from the same gallery, the current board approved its purchase for approximately $1.25 million. This makes it the second most expensive purchase in the Timken collection, surpassed only by its Copley portrait.
The rising value for Lane’s paintings reflect the growing reputation of his work in the last quarter century. He is one of a small number of mid-19thcentury American landscape painters categorized as luminists for their unusual attention to and use of light.
His work, along with that of John Frederick Kensett, Martin Johnson Heade and Albert Bierstadt, has been the subject of many exhibitions and pioneering scholarship by eminent art historians John Wilmderding and Barbara Novak. Planning is currently under way for a Fitz Hugh Lane retrospective to appear at both the National Gallery of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1988. The Timken’s acquisition is among the works already selected for that exhibition.
“Castine Harbor and Town” hung in the Witherle Memorial Library in Castine, Maine, until the mid-1970s before passing through the hands of three commercial galleries.
In the painting, viewer and artist are looking across the harbor, with numerous boats in the water and the distant shore dotted with small white buildings.
But Lane pays closest attention to the creation of harbor and sky. The variations of gray on the gently rippling water are masterfully subtle. The sky could be a painting in and of itself, with so much variety in its clouds and fluctuations of atmospheric effects.
Lane’s use of light, however, is not completely natural. As in so many luminist paintings, the source of illumination here seems slightly mysterious, implicitly spiritual. Looking at this picture, we can understand why Wilmderding, Novak and other important scholars have pointed to parallels between luminist paintings and Transcendentalist writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and others. Like Emerson’s notion of the transparent eyeball which is nothing and sees all, Lake is omnipresent yet utterly invisible in “Castine Harbor and Town.”
The Timken has also been the recipient of a gift, “A Portrait of a Lady” (1677), painted by Nicolas Maes, a student of Rembrant’s better known for his genre paintings. It was donated by Alan Mark Levinson, a Los Angeles-based collector of old master works.
It is a charmingly theatrical portrait, though clearly not a major work of the 17th century. It pictures a young woman with quizzical expression and ivory skin, posing with her tiny dog. The backdrop of red drapery opens onto a landscape
The portrait is now on view.
(The Timken is open Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m. Admission is free.)
December 21 1986, San Diego Union, C-2. The night Schumann-Heink sang “Auld Lang Syne,” by Arthur Ribbel.
December 21, 1986, San Diego Union, F-4. One of architect Irving Gill’s treasures will shine again (Administration Building in Balboa Park), by Carol Olten.
The city of San Diego and the Museum of Man recently agreed to renovate the building designed by Gill for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition [sic].
December 28, 1986, Los Angeles Times, II, 2: Letter from Allison Crews, San Diego, on the museum issue.
Your readers were misinformed by Nancy Ray’s article on the acquisition of the Conference Building in Balboa Park by the auto museum (“Car Museum OK’d After Jones Flops Votes, Favors Lease,” Dec. 17). Dan Biggs, president of the auto museum was never addressed by Councilman Jones. Mr. Jones directed all of his questions pertaining to this issue to either Terry Sheldon, museum representative, or James Milch, museum counsel.
Also, cloggers do not wear wooden shoes to dance in. Tap shoes are worn by the dancers, therefore the requirement of a floor able to withstand the wear and tear of hundreds of pairs of taps week after week becomes an issue.
It is a shame that the people of San Diego have had taken away from them another facility that allowed for the active participation of all ages in recreational pursuits.
And it is even more shameful that no one on the City Council addressed the question of what will happen to the displaced users should the 1987 bond issue not pass.
December 29, 1986, San Diego Tribune, B-7. Commentary: Exploiters are disfiguring Balboa Park, by piecemeal, by Richard Amero.
A conflict has always existed between park planners and practical citizens who wanted to use public parks to make money.
Park lovers supported landscape Samuel Parsons’ efforts in 1903 to turn Balboa Park into a relaxing natural environment, but park exploiters insisted on putting railroad lines, freeways, exposition buildings, a zoo, golf courses, hospitals, schools, theaters, convention centers and county fairs in the park.
Balboa Park is disfigured by piecemeal, expedient and pragmatic projects foisted on it by park exploiters.
To shift the emphasis in Balboa Park from private to public development, proposed plans should be dropped to expand the golf courses, to increase the number of institutions in the park, to put up new buildings, luxury restaurants, shopping malls and theaters; to create cul-de-sacs; and to relocate Centro Cultural de la Raza.
Proposed plans should be retained that would transform the plazas of Panama and Pan-America into open plazas; direct pedestrian traffic through the center of Spanish Village; separate park borders from abutting private property; route traffic into the park from 25th Street; and convert park land used by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls into park land for everybody.
An environmentally preferred alternative or EPA, prepared by PRC Engineering, Inc., as an answer to a preliminary Balboa Park development and management plan, is the only master plan for Balboa Park in the running; As this plan approves the retention of major buildings in the Palisades and on the old Naval Hospital site, Parsons’ objections to buildings in parks must be reiterated: Buildings do not add to a park, they subtract from it.
Except for the Ford Building, the old Naval Hospital buildings and the former exposition buildings in the Palisades are architecturally mediocre. Hospital buildings are cold and sterile, while the inappropriately placed chapel in front of them is conventional and dull. Palisades buildings are blank and tawdry.
Return to Amero Collection.
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