Orange County Great Park Now to Be More Like a Ho-Hum Regional Park

Orange County Great Park Now to Be More Like a Ho-Hum Regional Park

That Orange County Great Park that would rival Golden Gate Park in San Francisco or Central Park in Manhattan?

You know, the nature and multi-use park ringed by housing that Irvine and South County forces convinced a majority of county voters in 2002 was preferable to a new 24-hour, international airport?

Not gonna happen.

Well, at least it's not going to happen to the originally promised scale as the Irvine City Council tentatively voted 3-2 last week for an Orange County Great Park that's more akin to the city's master-planned communities with sports fields, a golf course and thousands of homes. Final approval could come Dec. 10.

Mayor Steven Choi, Councilman Jeff Lalloway and Councilwoman Christina Shea supported the new plan to make about half of the 1,400-acre park within the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station look like a typical regional park.

The other half is to maintain the Central Park West vision of New York landscape architect Ken Smith. The whole shebang is to be ringed by thousands of new homes, with the developer kicking in $10 million for park maintenance.

Beth Krom and Larry Agran, who fiercely fought converting El Toro from a military to commercial airport, voted against the new direction for the Great Park, on grounds it "eviscerates" the original Ken Smith vision.

But Lalloway, who cast the swing vote, explained that the elimination of redevelopment agencies in California destroyed Irvine's ability to finance that vision. The councilman added residential developer FivePoint will be on the hook to clean up any hazardous materials found on the old base site.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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