Friendship Park advocates request pause on construction plans
Advocates for Friendship Park on the U.S-Mexico border met late Wednesday with Border Patrol officials to confirm details of changes coming to the site, which has long been a place for families to reunite.
"Border Patrol officials began the meeting by confirming their plans to build two 30-foot walls across the face of Friendship Park," said John Fanestil, of Friends of Friendship Park.
He said the 30-foot bollard-style walls would add to the desecration of this unique location. “Friendship Park is not just any other location along the border," he said. "It is a site of unique, historic, cultural, environmental and social significance. It is a symbol of the truth that people of Mexico and the U.S. are friends and not enemies.”
Though the Border Patrol confirmed that the new plans would include public access, Fanestil said local stakeholders should have been allowed to participate in the conversations about changes.
"They did not specify anything else about the design of gates or accessibility. It was a very general presentation without the schematics we had been promised," he said.
Fanestil fears that making Friendship Park's look like the rest of the regional border walls would discourage use.
In a letter, Friends of Friendship Park requested a 120-day pause on construction "so that a meaningful process of consultation with stakeholders could be undertaken," Fanestil said. "Such consultation has not taken place."
The coalition will hold a stakeholder summit at the end of August, and members hope that Border Patrol officials will pause construction by that time.
In a previous statement, Customs and Border Protection said construction was expected to start in September.
Friends of Friendship Park say they expect a response from CBP about their request to pause construction by next week.
In the meantime, Friendship Park remains closed to the public on the U.S. side.