Size Matters

With developers now eyeing El Toro, Irvine mayor insists he wont compromise on Great Park plan

But what about critics who worry that Irvine might proceed with rapid, intense development of the abandoned Marine base? Agran says he will sponsor a similar Great Park initiative for the citizens of Irvine. After years of battling the airport, he says, this initiative will finally "lock-in" a huge metropolitan park plan for the land.

"Once we have it clearly annexed and we have a plan sufficiently detailed, then we would take it to the people of Irvine, and it would be ratified," said Agran. "It is our intention to develop the base in a way set down by Measure W . . . or something that closely resembles Measure W."

Longtime observers of the airport/park war are amused by Agran's cautious semantics.

"I think those people who actually believed the campaign rhetoric for the Great Park should watch Larry very closely in the coming months," said airport proponent Rick Reiff, executive editor of the Orange County Business Journal. "Do I believe Larry is one of those who most wants a huge public park? Sure, but the Great Park concept was little more than an effective campaign strategy to kill the airport. A multithousand-acre park is just a pipe dream. It's not going to happen. This whole debate is going to be settled in a backroom deal. There will be huge development there, just like there is throughout the rest of Irvine."

"I want to drive home the point that the work is not done," said Agran. "This is the type of politically risky work we do all the time. There are no guarantees in a reasonably free society."

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