San Pasqual a Battlefield In Fight for State Funding - NBC 7 San Diego

San Pasqual a Battlefield In Fight for State Funding

Park faces closure on July 1 as a result of budget cuts



    On a day of memories, for those who died in battle, a North County memorial struggles to stay open.

    However a group that cares about the San Pasqual Battlefield Historic Park is trying to save it.

    The battlefield site honors soldiers who fought and died, more than 160 years ago, in the Mexican-American War. But time has not been good to the San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park.

    It's is closed on Memorial Day -- and most days of the week. Only on weekends can visitors learn about the bloody and very controversial battle of December 6, 1846, in which both General Stephen Kearny of the U.S. forces and General Andres Pico of the “Californio” forces claimed victory.

    San Pasqual a Battlefield for State Funding

    [DGO] San Pasqual a Battlefield for State Funding
    The San Pasqual Battlefield site honors soldiers who fought and died more than 160 years ago. Steven Luke spoke to Ramona resident John Richards and the park's superintendent Bob Wohl about the uncertain future of the park given state cutbacks.
    (Published Monday, May 28, 2012)

    "It's a valuable part of American History, and if they close this, you know, it may go away completely,” said John Richards, a Ramona resident, who stopped by the park’s parking lot Monday afternoon.

    And the historic park could, in fact, be closed every day, starting July 1.

    San Pasqual is on Governor Jerry Brown's list of about 70 state parks scheduled for closure.

    They would be very visible victims of the state budget crisis.
    But all of them have a strong group of defenders.

    "State parks are our jewels, our gems, our nation's best idea, I think Ken Burns said in one of his PBS specials," says Bob Wohl.

    Wohl is a retired state park superintendent, who now lives in Carlsbad. He talked with NBC 7 San Diego Monday afternoon.

    Wohl supervised the Old Town and San Pasqual parks, and notes that San Pasqual is one of the oldest of California's more than 270 state parks.

    "So not only does it discuss history, and venerate history, it also is part of our California history," Wohl said.

    He says shutting San Pasqual will save the state less than $50 thousand a year. But he and other critics say the entire park closure program will save so little money -- just $22 million in a nearly $16 billion deficit -- that it's a needless waste of a beautiful and wonderful collection of parks and monuments.

    Others, like John Richards say the Governor is playing on emotions, to win voter passage of a proposed tax increase, by targeting schools, parks and other popular programs, instead of cutting what they say is an expensive state “bureaucracy."

    “Any way that they [the politicians] can hurt us and make us feel bad, they'll do that because then they know that we'll just go along and give [them] the tax increase [they] want," Richards said.

    But Bob Wohl remains optimistic. “We may have an angel in our corner,” he says, referring to a local organization that is trying to raise enough money to keep the Battlefield Park open for three-to-five years.

    He hopes by that time, though, the state will hopefully have stepped back from the financial abyss.