SAN DIEGO - The restoration of Balboa Park's iconic lily pond is a great example of "making lemonade out of lemons," City Council President Todd Gloria said Monday.
The Friends of Balboa Park, city officials and supporters celebrated the completion of repairs to the nearly 100-year-old lily pond between El Prado and the Botanical Building.
The long rectangular pool was damaged last summer when a nighttime water fight that attracted hundreds of people got out of control. The event was staged at a large fountain, but people trampled landscaping and piping when they ran to the lily pond to fill up their water gear.
The $50,000 in repairs included rebuilding 27 boxes that house lily pads and installing new pipes, according to Friends of Balboa Park spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins. The project's cost was covered through donations of cash and services, she said.
"I'm so happy to see all the work that was done, not only to repair the damage, but to maintain and upgrade the lily pond," Gloria said. "This is a classic example of making lemonade out of lemons."
The restoration of the lily pond took place during the winter because the lilies are dormant. New varieties of the flower were added to the pond, according to Jenkins.
She said the city's Parks and Recreation Department also took the opportunity to conduct 25-year maintenance work, including relining the rim with new plaster, checking the concrete floor for cracks and replacing pipes
that weren't damaged in the water fight.
The water fight created an uproar that even reached into the mayoral campaign when then-candidate Bob Filner accused opponent Carl DeMaio's partner, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News publisher Jonathan Hale, of promoting the event in advance.
An online article about upcoming weekend happenings included a couple of paragraphs about the water fight.
The Filner campaign sent the media a statement that condemned Hale's "criminal actions," prompting DeMaio to describe the winning candidate's remarks as "mean-spirited divisiveness."
On Monday, Filner said he still wanted to see someone held accountable.
"I still hope that we can bring some of those people to justice," Filner said. He added he would like those people to do community service at Balboa Park.
Local residents are just glad to see the park return to its original state.
“I’ve been coming here for the last 43 years to admire this pond and it means a great deal to me," said East Village resident, El Dejae.
Ann Wilson, a board member with Friends of Balboa Park, said the koi fish will be transferred back to the pond in the near future. Right now, the fish are being baby-sat by a local company. The lilies are expected to bloom once again in a few months.