Garden Club gets insights into Balboa Park project

Garden Club gets insights into Balboa Park project
Tomas Herrera-Mishler, CEO of the Balboa Park Conservancy, gives Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club members a glimpse into the future: the botanical building restoration project. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene

RANCHO SANTA FE — Members of the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club invited Tomas Herrera-Mishler, CEO of the Balboa Park Conservancy, to their quarterly meeting on Feb. 24. While Mishler touched upon the history of the Conservancy, he gave members a glimpse into the future: the botanical building restoration project.

Herrera-Mishler shared that upon first glance it doesn’t appear that the botanical building needs a reinvestment. However, if one looks more closely, there’s significant rust to the structural beams, termite damage, and an antiquated watering system.

Herrera-Mishler said that from a visitor perspective, the plantings tend to be static so there is not a lot of reason for people to want to return on a regular basis.

Realizing the needs of the restoration project, the Balboa Park Conservancy issued a RFP that included an enhancement for visitor experience, restoring the structure, and restoring the grounds around it including the missing pergola.

“We selected an amazing world class design team,” he said, noting how the choice came down to RNT Architect. “They are a highly competent and a well-regarded firm.”

The horticultural team was also savvy experts.

He told the Garden Club to keep their eyes on the project as well as the progress it makes.

“I think you’ll be very excited to come down and visit. And I think it will be a place where you want to come back over and over again throughout the year because it will be constantly changing and constantly fresh with new themes, new ideas, and new plants.”

Herrera-Mishler then personally invited members of the Garden Club for a personal tour. As an organization, he said, once a week they are hosting a one-hour tour and Herrera-Mishler is the guide.

While visitors look at the different landscapes and buildings, they’ll also hear about the future of Balboa Park, including the botanical building.

“The tour is only an hour. And it’s our way of introducing people to our mission and to see what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

The goal is to rediscover Balboa Park. Herrera-Mishler also hopes that people will be encouraged to become short-term ambassadors and invite others to take part in the tour.

“It’s really important for a young organization like ours to have an opportunity to just share what we’re doing with people,” he said. “Everybody loves Balboa Park.”

Herrera-Mishler said that many people believe that Balboa Park could be better and that is precisely why the Balboa Park Conservancy was formed.

“That’s what we are all about,” he said.

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