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'Free' Balboa Park

September 07, 1986

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 more than 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 . . . too precious to be held captive by a small band of freeloaders who are clogging the issues.

E.R. KAPALIS

San Diego

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