In February 2011, .
Work began last spring on projects which include the installation of a road across Bunker Hill, the reconstruction of 1,600 feet of fence along the border, and redesign of a park in Monument Mesa and the bi-national meeting area known as Friendship Park.
Two of the three projects which cost $4.3 million are expected to be completed this spring.
Border Field State Park was returned to the state of California by the federal government in 1971.
The ceremony to turn the land over was led by then first lady Pat Nixon, who advocated friendship between neighbors and famously declared .
Since then Friendship Park on Monument Mesa has served as a place where friends and families on either side of the border could come and spend time together. Old fences allowed people to get close enough to touch their loved ones or talk quietly, until 2009 when fences were restructured and access was restricted.
Friendship Park now sits in a 130 foot wide area between two fences and is considered property of the federal government and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Adopting some recommendations made by architect James Brown and the citizen group Friends of Friendship Park, the Border Patrol has restructured Monument Mesa and Friendship Park with the intention of increasing security while allowing personal meetings at the border.
According to Border Patrol Agent Jerry Conlin, the redesign of the park atop Monument Mesa will feature a new 60 ft. sliding gate that will allow groups to hold preapproved meetings in Friendship Park. The gate is slated for installation at the end of April.
Steel mesh has been installed between the bollard fencing where individuals were previously able to reach through the fence and touch one another. While the Friends of Friendship Park opposed mesh fences, the Border Patrol insists it is needed to curb potential exchange of illicit materials across the border.
At the request of Friends of Friendship Park to incorporate part of their alternative design, the Border Patrol has chosen not to install a canopy over Friendship Circle.
Initially the canopy was intended to prohibit individuals from throwing materials over the border, but after the Friends of Friendship Park insisted the canopy gave the area a “prison” feel, the Border Patrol deemed the measure unnecessary.
New grass, park benches, barbecues and trash cans have been installed in the park area of Monument Mesa.
No Monument for Monument Mesa
In July 1851 , Old Boundary Marker 1, now known as Boundary Marker 258, was placed on the U.S.-Mexico border three years after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Previously the eight ton Italian marble marker was open to people on both sides of the border.
The new fencing at the park no longer allows access to the monument from the American side, though it can still be viewed from Monument Mesa.
“It’s unfortunate it’s no longer accessible, but there was no way for us to meet security standards without the current fence placement,” said Chief Patrol Agent Paul Beeson of the San Diego sector Border Patrol.
Reconstruction of the U.S. Surf Fence
Over 1,300 feet of fencing has been replaced along the border, stretching from Yogurt Canyon to the edge of the beach between Playas de Tijuana and Imperial Beach.
The new fencing, called bollard fence, is a series of large capped poles positioned tightly together to block anyone from squeezing through, while also not forming a solid fence. The fence design may also allow small animals to pass through.
The final 300 feet of the fence is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.
This section of fence extends into the surf between the United States and Mexico, and is being built using a temporary pier that will be dismantled after the project is finished.
Bunker Hill All Weather Road
An all-weather road installed on Bunker Hill, so named for the World War II era bunkers along its ridges. The new road is intended to connect two previously existing roads on the hill to aid Border Patrol in securing the area.
Construction of the road is expected to being in mid-April, and is expected to finish at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013.
The Army Corps of Engineers will build the road, installing lights along its entirety. Delays in procuring funding for the project have pushed its start date back from its original 2011 date according to Border Patrol Agent Michael Jimenez.