Much hoopla is surrounding the third anniversary of Irvine's Great Park becoming official and the first anniversary of the big orange Great Park balloon taking flight. Wednesday was a media preview for ink-stained wretches and blow-dried TV anchorbots. This morning, the Great Park Corporation was told everything is peachy, and this afternoon board chairman Larry Agran told the Irvine citizenry the same in his State of the Great Park speech, which Irvine TV televised live. Friday night is a Great Park Conservancy shindig out at Hangar 244 next to the balloon launch site. And Saturday is the Festival of Flight, where from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. anyone can take part in the opening festivities for the GP's new Preview Park, which features a new structure with large windows facing a sustainable lawn on five acres of land. Events include the re-launch of the balloon (which was temporarily grounded by what Agran called a "baseless complaint" by a malcontent), a vintage World War II aircraft flyover, model aircraft flybys, exhibits, crafts, kite flying, singing, dancing, storytelling and free refreshments.
But the great elephant in the room -- or, more accurately, great elephant poop in the Preview Park -- is the fact that the area where these festivities is being held, well, stinks. Literally.
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To generate revenue since acquiring the 4,700-acre former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, the Great Park leases land for RV storage, which isn't that smelly, and ecologically friendly composting, which is quite smelly. The stench is especially noticeable when the heat hits the waste and prevailing breezes carry the foul odor to the adjacent Great Park use.
Can anyone guess what that is? The fella in the gas mask wins! It is the Great Park balloon and Preview Park.
Yes, there are environmental and financial benefits to the composting operations. Tierra Verde's lease generates about a half million dollars annually to a Great Park that sorely needs steady revenue streams. And Agran revealed in his speech that free composting will soon be offered.
But since the stated idea is to get people out to the Preview Park this weekend so they can get excited about what's to come in the future Great Park, the braintrust should have appreciated the importance of all sensual first impressions. Anyone with unclogged nasal passages will come away thinking this: the earliest incarnation of the ballyhooed Great Park smells like a steaming pile of shit.