History

Getting Started: 2005 - 2006
Getting Inspired: 2006 - 2007
Getting Real:  2007 - 2009
Doing the Work: 2010 - 2012
Moving Ahead: 2012
 

Getting Started: 2005 - 2006

In the summer of 2005, a group of community leaders and business owners met at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce to consider a daunting task: How to re-vitalize what had become a neglected core business district in need of a facelift? The mile-long stretch on Palm Canyon Drive between Country Club Road and Christmas Circle had had little, if any, sprucing up for nearly 50 years.

Tourism, generated by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, is our town's economic driver, and it was apparent to the group that the key to creating a thriving village was to update and beautify our downtown areas.

That need had been recognized years earlier by San Diego County, which used Community Development Block Grant funds to commission respected tourism consultants Chandler, Brooks & Donahoe, Inc. to study ways to enhance Borrego Springs and attract more visitors. The resulting study presents a comprehensive plan on how to put the shine back on Borrego Springs, San Diego's only desert community. The CB & D report suggests ways to improve our town's appeal by creating more opportunities to enjoy Borrego Springs' unique and pleasing small-town ambience, especially "shopping and dining in a pedestrian-friendly environment."

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Getting Inspired: 2006 - 2007

But how does a little unincorporated town with few resources and limited representation actually do something like that? The volunteer group, dubbed the Borrego Business Think Tank, met once a month, every month, for two years pondering that question. They talked (and sometimes argued) about ideas, visions, concerns, opportunities, and obstacles to achieving ambitious goals with extremely limited resources. It became apparent that to enlist the support of San Diego County planners, it would be necessary to form a bona fide organization with the express purpose of spear-heading and implementing town improvements.

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Getting Real: 2007 - 2009

By mid-2007, funded by a San Diego County Neighborhood Re-investment Grant, the Borrego Village Association (a 501 (c) 6 corporation) was legally established, and Think Tank participants became founding Board members. After identifying and prioritizing potential projects, the BVA convened several community forums to present and gather ideas and found an enthusiastic response.

Initial efforts focused on a key Brooks Report recommendation -- re-designing Palm Canyon Drive. In 2008, with County funding, the BVA engaged experienced town planner Michael Weber to help develop ideas, maps, and conceptual renderings. This work, which was presented to the Supervisor's office in 2009, provided the platform and framework for next steps, moving beyond concepts to reality.

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Doing the Work: 2010 - 2012

By 2010, with the expert assistance of architect and board member Richard Orne, the BVA had prepared a comprehensive plan for improving Palm Canyon Drive, including median treatments, landscaping, and parking that would enhance the "downtown experience" for residents, visitors, pedestrians, and drivers. That plan is currently under review with County planners.

The Board next turned to identifying small, low-budget beautification projects and saw opportunities to develop "pocket parks" on empty and neglected lots fronting Palm Canyon Drive's south side. The BVA successfully collaborated with property owners on plans to plant shrubs and trees, and install irrigation and benches. The simple, straight-forward effort inspired hundreds of donors to contribute more than $40,000 to the project, and it attracted the attention and support of San Diego Gas & Electric.

The BVA worked with the company to establish "Borrego Arbor Day," on April 7, 2011. That morning, SDG&E brought dozens of volunteers to help plant nearly 50 trees, creating "instant" pocket parks on the spot. As the trees mature, they will add not only visual appeal, but needed shade, and the benches provide convenient pedestrian perches. Currently, the BVA is preparing plans for pocket parks to be installed on the north side of Palm Canyon Drive, with a completion goal date of May 1, 2012.

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Moving Ahead: 2012

While early initiatives were made possible with private donations of time, money, and resources, more ambitious vitalization plans will rely on the support of County and State government agencies. From the beginning and throughout its history, the BVA has worked to establish strong relationships with San Diego County's 5th District Supervisor Bill Horn and his team, who support our goals and have provided invaluable insights on strategies and plans.

The BVA will pursue numerous County, State, and organizational grant opportunities to continue planning, designing, and implementing community improvements.

(See 2012 Areas of Focus)

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PO Box 1133   Borrego Springs  CA  92004-1133
info@borregovillageassociation.org