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Another Memorial Day Weekend and Irvine Still Hasn’t Followed Through on Its Promise to Build a Veterans Memorial Park

by

For many veterans and their families, the words spoken by public officials at Memorial Day ceremonies here in Irvine rang hollow.

Let me be blunt. Four members of the Irvine City Council continue to disrespect veterans and voters through their lack of interest in history — and their disregard for the law.

Mayor Farrah Khan, Vice Mayor Anthony Kuo, and Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Mike Carroll seem to think the City of Irvine just popped up when they were elected to the Council.

In order to make informed decisions about land use, you need to understand its history. For nearly six decades, the property that is now the Great Park was home to the U.S. Marine Corps. The iconic aircraft control tower on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station served as a beacon for thousands upon thousands of military personnel as they were being shipped off to foreign wars, or coming back from overseas deployments. The base’s FAA facilities served as a training ground for thousands of air traffic control personnel across the nation, playing an integral role in the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

That’s why in 2014, then-Councilmember Larry Agran was able to secure unanimous Council approval to designate that critical portion of the former base for a State Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery. Agran’s proposal called for a peaceful Veterans Cemetery along with preserved historical landmarks and an aviation museum — all situated in a park-like setting surrounded by trees, trails, and memorial gardens for the entire community to enjoy.

The vast majority of Irvine residents continue to support Agran’s proposal to honor our City’s military roots and to protect and preserve the historical landmarks.

Over the past few years, thousands of residents have appealed directly to the Mayor and her Council majority through in-person testimony, emails, and letters; 19,790 Irvine citizens signed an initiative petition that became law — officially zoning the ARDA site for a Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery; and 28,638 Irvine voters cast their ballots in support of the Veterans Memorial Park being built on the ARDA site.

Instead of honoring Irvine veterans and Irvine voters, the Mayor and her Council majority have brazenly ignored the will of the people … and the law in Irvine. How’s that for local democracy?

It would take a single vote by the City Council to implement the will of the people! Councilman Agran’s legally binding resolution calls on the City to clear the ARDA site, preserve the historical landmarks, and begin the process of transferring the site to the State so that construction of the long-promised Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery can begin.

Let’s hope by next Memorial Day, Agran’s resolution is implemented. That would be something to celebrate. Not just for veterans and their families, but for all of us who believe that our votes and our voices should count!

Franklin J. Lunding

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