Idea to remove part of border barrier for binational park gaining momentum

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SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Jim Brown is sharing his concept that would remove portions of the border barrier between San Diego and Tijuana while creating a park where people from both sides of the border could gather, meet and congregate year-round.

This binational park would expand on Friendship Park, which already exists but has been closed since the pandemic began.

Jim Brown is the San Diego-based architect behind the concept to expand Friendship Park between San Diego and Tijuana into a binational gathering place without the border wall. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“Historic Friendship Park is a very important meeting place between our two countries,” said Brown. “People have been coming here for many decades, people travel thousands of miles if they don’t have the ability to cross the border. … And you would do it, too, if you were a grandfather or grandmother and this was the only way to meet your grandchild for the first time, or if this was the last time you were going to see your grandmother or grandfather, and that’s what people do.”

Brown’s plan was selected by a group called Friends of Friendship Park, which organized an event in August to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Border Field State Park, where Friendship Park is located.

“We are now proposing a larger vision. Right now, you can only touch fingertips, but we believe it’s not enough,” said Brown. “We propose 80 acres, 40 in the United States and 40 in Playas de Tijuana, and that it’d be a 24-hour city where people could meet and talk.”

The centerpiece of the project will be Tijuana’s iconic bullring, which sits on a bluff just above the ocean on the Mexican side of the border.

Tijuana’s bullring would be the focal point of the International Border Park now being considered between San Diego and Tijuana. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“It’s a beautiful and historic structure and it will be retained. … Imagine a pedestrian walkthrough circling around the bullring and fleeing out into bridge 1,000 feet out in the Pacific Ocean with another circular structure that rests out in the water — not a fishing pier, but a pier with shops, places to talk, places to congregate with parks on the pier,” said Brown.

The International Friendship Park would expand 40 acres north and south of the border giving people from Mexico access to the Tijuana Estuary. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

The plan does include immigration controls, Brown said, adding that there will be customs checkpoints at each end of the park.

As of now, the idea is in the conceptual stage, no budget has been set and no money has been allocated by either Mexico or the United States.

“It takes acts of Congress by the United States and Mexico to pull this off and it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But it’s worth it, it’s time to make a statement of peace, friendship and cooperation.”

By Brown’s estimation, if all goes well and permission is granted by both countries, the project will take at least 10 years to build.

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