This weekend, we will be honoring all who served our nation. However, for many veterans and our families, the words spoken by public officials at Memorial Day ceremonies here in Irvine will ring a little hollow.

Back in 2014, I attended the Irvine City Council meeting when a promise to Orange County families was made — through a unanimous Council vote — to build a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park on the 125-acre ARDA site at the Great Park. The Veterans Memorial Park was designed to include a peaceful Veterans Cemetery, along with preserved historical landmarks from the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, and a lush perimeter park filled with trees, trails, and memorial gardens for the entire community to enjoy.

The Veterans Memorial Park on the ARDA site at the Great Park was scheduled to become operational on Veterans Day 2019!

After the 333-page Concept & Design plan was approved and funding was secured by the state and federal government, developer FivePoint stepped in and stopped the project, with the help of Councilmembers whose City election campaigns were supported by developer “dark money.” (FivePoint has wanted to bring massive office, commercial, and industrial development projects to the ARDA site.)

Irvine citizens have repeatedly voiced our support for building the Veterans Memorial Park on the ARDA site at the Great Park, as originally planned. Over the past few years, thousands of residents have appealed directly to the Mayor and Council through in-person testimony, emails, and letters; 19,790 Irvine citizens signed an initiative petition that designated the ARDA site as the only legally available location for the Veterans Memorial Park; and 28,638 Irvine voters cast their ballots in support of the Veterans Memorial Park being built on the ARDA site.

This Memorial Day, I am urging our Mayor and City Council to do more than simply post a note on their social media pages or give a speech expressing their support for those of us who served our country. The best way to truly honor the sacrifices veterans and our families have made is to implement the will of the people. That means adopting Councilman Larry Agran’s resolution to clear the ARDA site, preserve the historical landmarks, and begin building the Veterans Memorial Park, starting with the perimeter park … right now!

Ed Pope