The 2003 Great Park

Future local historians tracing the development of the Orange County Great Park—or the Richard Nixon Regional Park, if Orange County Republican Party chairman Tom Fuentes has his way—will look back on 2+003 as "the year of positioning." It's not that there hasn't been any significant park news, it's just that so much of the action has been concentrated on the race for personal legacy. Mayors, county supervisors, city managers and political consultants have all whipped and nosed their way into the public record, hoping that their proclaimed generosity, courage and foresight will translate into a cushy position on a park board of directors—or at least a nameplate on a park bench. And so the moment has come for me, Nathan Callahan, to reveal my place in park lore.

The fact is, I invented the Great Park. It's true. Swear to God. No shit. I've got witnesses. It happened back in 1988 in a conversation with current Irvine mayor and Great Park-legacy frontrunner Larry Agran. We were talking about the plan for a commercial airport at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. Having just visited San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, I told Agran that when the Marines left El Toro, the good citizens of Orange County should tear up the runways and use the land to build a park of their own. "A great big park," I said. Agran—as innovative as the Japanese—shortened the name a bit and the rest is history.

As I'm the inventor of the Great Big Park, it seems only fitting that the park's central concourse should bear my name. A well-paid lifetime appointment (with pension plan) to a Great Big Park council or commission would also seem reasonable compensation. In the meantime, I would like to acknowledge all the hard work that's been done to turn my dream into reality. Thank you. Now, let's get to work.


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