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Botanical Building In Balboa Park Needs $3M In Repairs

Around $3 million needs to be raised to overhaul the iconic Botanical Building in Balboa Park, the head of the Balboa Park Conservancy said at a news conference Wednesday.

It's been around 15 years since the last restoration project in the building, which was first constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition -- an event that brought international attention to San Diego, conservancy board President Carol Chang said.

"Because of the materials used in its construction, the building needs major restorations periodically," Chang said.

Chang said the conservancy needs public help to raise the rest of the money needed for the restorations. She also said that while less than $10,000 has been raised so far, some interested potential donors have been identified.

“We have a couple of funders who are extremely interested. I'd like to say to you that they’ve signed the check, but I can’t tell you that. But I can tell you they are very, very interested and can bring the large amount of money that is needed to the table,” Chang said.

In order to have the work completed by the target of fall 2015, it would help if the conservancy had the money in hand by around September, she said.

The conservancy is working to update its website to include an area to make donations and to volunteer to work on the building.

Late last year, Chang told City News Service that the structure has a crumbling roof, issues with water management and problems in the gardens. The 99-year-old building at the foot of the lily pond also needs new lighting.

The Botanical Building is one of the largest structures in the world made in a lath style, with strips of wood spaced slightly apart to let in sunlight. It's home to around 2,100 plants, including collections of cycads, ferns, orchids and palms.

Many buildings in the park need some maintenance, but they're supported by a museum or some other kind of institution. The Botanical Building, on the other hand, requires financial help from outside organizations or individuals.

Wednesday's comments by Chang came at a news conference in which people involved in planning for a celebration of the park's centennial next year said they have resolved their differences, particularly over issues like transparency in the planning process.

One event tentatively set for one spring weekend will transform the park into how it looked in 1915, with people in period garb and roving performers.

While various people and organizations are planning different events, the city of San Diego is in overall charge of managing the centennial, according to Chang.

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