The Balboa Park 2015 centennial celebration may be dead, at least on the grandiose scale once envisioned by ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, but his fellow Republicans on the county board of supervisors are planning to stage their own park celebration extravaganza this May.
As first reported here in February of last year, ex-Union-Tribune reporter and Sanders aide Gerry Braun along with ex-Sanders chief of staff Julie Dubick, were paid big bucks by a nonprofit operation to oversee the Balboa Park event, seen by Sanders and his backers in the chamber of commerce as a way to showcase the city's privatization efforts.
The group spent big on their salaries and consultants, but failed to line up much private sector cash, pointing the finger at Sanders successor, now fallen Democratic mayor Bob Filner, for undermining the project.
Over at the county, the Republican-majority board of supervisors have taken things into their own hands.
According to bid documents posted online by the county March 28, the grand opening of the new waterfront park at downtown's county administration center on Saturday, May 10 is set to resemble a mini world's fair, featuring a sprawling beer and wine garden, an arts and culture zone, farmers market, performance stage, food truck pavilion, wounded warriors classic car show, sports zone, and a kids area complete with Super Mega 150' Obstacle Course with Super Slide and rock climbing wall.
The eight-acre project replaces parking lots on both sides of the historic administration building. A garage under the park, as well as a $24.3 million structure nearby in Little Italy, is replacing the former lots.
"The San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department is seeking a request for quote from qualified firms ... to provide Bounce Houses, inflatables and other various outdoor games for the County Administration Center Waterfront Park Grand Opening," says one of the online notices.
In addition to the bounce house, attractions sought include: "3 Sided Rock Wall, Giant Checkers, Inflatables Basketball Double Shot, Inflatables Basketball Fast Pitch, Inflatable Soccer Goal Kick, Inflatable Football Quarterback Pass, Photo Booth with Custom Prints," and "Inflatable Golf Pro Simulator or Golf Chip Simulator."
The county is also seeking quotes on the cost of renting 110 "8’ Banquet Tables," two "30’ x 40’ Large White Tents," 1600 white folding chairs, and 45 36-inch round table tops with bases.
Plenty of Porta-Potties are in the mix.
"Delivery is expected on Friday, May 9 and pick up will be required on Saturday, May 10. Time of drop off and pick up will be coordinated through County staff."
How the celebration will pencil out won’t be known until after April 4, when the contractors’ responses are due to arrive. Meanwhile, construction costs for the park itself have been on the move.
Last October 8, according to board minutes, supervisors voted unanimously on their so-called consent agenda to approve $2 million in change orders, “to cover costs to design and install new play equipment, provide for a public art presence, and to address various site operational issues that are outside the current park project scope.”
“The total construction cost for this project, including today’s request, will be $49,400,000. There will be no change in net General Fund costs and no additional staff years.”