The Border Patrol held an open house Wednesday evening at the to exhibit three renovation projects slated to begin this year.
Greg Gephart, program manager for tactical infrastructure for the U.S. Border Patrol, was on-hand to explain the nature of the projects, the goals desired and the background, environmental and design details of the undertakings.
If the changes are approved, the Border Patrol will begin a proposal period in March, then sign deals with private contractors for Friendship Park projects by April.
The Border Patrol wants to see construction for all three projects start this summer.
The Replacement of the Friendship Park Pedestrian Border Fence
The Friendship Park project drew a great deal of attention at the open house, as it directly affects visitors to the park, and in part on the lawn of the community center Wednesday evening to promote an alternative re-design.
The proposed changes to Friendship Park—a binational park where people on both sides of the border can meet one another—centers around the re-construction of the pedestrian border fence, which the Border Patrol said no longer meets security standards.
This fence will be replaced with 965 feet of bollard fence on either side of Friendship Circle, the area of the park where those on the American and Mexican sides of the park can get closest to each other.
A bollard fence design is a series of large capped poles positioned tightly together to block anyone from squeezing through, but at the same time not make a solid fence, which can easier to climb.
At Friendship Circle, a 50-foot picket fence with mesh between the fences will be installed, allowing for a clear line of sight between friends and family visiting at the circle.
Other changes include removing an adjustable, wrought-iron fence in the walkway area, allowing for less constricted access for people entering Friendship Circle from the Mexican side and installing a canopy over Friendship Circle.
Replacement of the San Diego Surf Fence
The surf fence replacement project will be directly tied into the Friendship Park project, with construction on both being slated for June of this year.
The San Diego surf fence, which runs along the border and 320 feet into the Pacific Ocean, was built between 1993 and 1994 and consists of steel pipes driven into the ground.
Over the past several years, corrosion and vandalism have brought sections of the fence into various states of disrepair, the Border Patrol said. The new fence they propose would be a similar pole design but made of metals that will last longer than steel. The fence will be bollard style, which will allow some marine creatures to pass through the fence without trouble, but still restrict illegal crossings. To ensure dredging or land reclamation is not necessary, the project will be carried out from a barge stationed just off shore.
The Border Patrol has listed its intentions to be environmentally conscious during this project, citing it will obtain appropriate permits from federal environmental authorities and plan to conduct impact assessments for things like land use, geology, cultural and historical resources and protected species.
The Addition of an All-Weather Road at Bunker Hill
The construction of an all-weather road at Bunker Hill in Border Field State Park is proposed to begin in June of this year as well.
Bunker Hill is home to World War II-era bunkers, and separates the east and west sides of the Border Patrol’s surveillance area. The proposed all-weather road would consist of two segments, the western half which would span approximately 1,000 feet, and an eastern segment, spanning about 1,400 feet. The design is meant to take special care to maximize the Border Patrol’s ability to effectively police the border and leave the WWII bunkers undisturbed. Lighting along the road will also be added for extra security.
This project will not be offered to private contractors, but will be incorporated as part of a military project.
In each project, the Border Patrol made clear their intentions to seek out accountability and permits from environmental authorities.
A statement made by the Border Patrol explained the agency is “committed to consultation with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, states, local governments, Native American tribes and property owners in the United States to minimize the impact on the environment, culture, commerce and quality of life for the communities and residents located near the sites at which such tactical infrastructure is to be constructed.”
Each project falls under the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station’s territory, which extends from the Pacific Ocean to Otay Mesa.
To learn more, or offer comments or suggestions for these projects to the Border Patrol, visit BorderFencePlanning.com