At the May 12th meeting, the Irvine City Council ended a six-year contentious debate by adopting the citizens’ initiative to build a State-built and State-operated Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the City-owned 125-acre “ARDA” site on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station at the Great Park.
The 4-1 vote was an amazing victory for the all-volunteer grassroots Build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery committee. The citizens’ committee — made up of hundreds of Irvine residents — has worked tirelessly for years to make sure that Irvine delivers on a promise it made back in 2014 to build the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the ARDA site.
Ed Pope, Chair of the Build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery committee said, “I want to express my sincere gratitude to our all-volunteer committee, which includes Irvine veterans and families, teachers, nurses, students, small business owners, and retirees who have dedicated countless hours to this legacy project.”
Former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran, the author and official proponent of the initiative, said: “This win belongs to the thousands of Irvine citizens who were willing to participate in direct democracy to make sure that the Council did the right thing last night.”
On April 28th, the Orange County Registrar of Voters certified that the citizens’ committee had gathered enough signatures to qualify their initiative for the November ballot. At the May 12th meeting, the Council was required to act upon the citizens’ initiative.
Councilmember Farrah Khan made the motion to adopt the citizens’ initiative as an ordinance, making it effective immediately, and dispensing with the need for an election on the measure. Councilmember Melissa Fox seconded Khan’s motion. The only dissenting vote came from Mayor Christina Shea.
Ed Pope made it clear that the Build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery committee was not disbanding. Ed said, “Our committee will continue to work with State legislators to make sure that the funding comes through so that the 30-month project can begin this year.”
Irvine Community News & Views will continue to follow this story and keep our readers updated on the progress of the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery.