Irvine Residents Favor Great Park Site for Veterans Cemetery and Oppose Developer “Land-Swap”

Hundreds of Irvine residents participated in ICNV’s Irvine Community Poll for May.  They voiced strong resident support for the City’s approved plan — also approved by the State and Federal government — to put the State Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery on a 125-acre parcel in the Great Park.  By a 3-to-1 majority, residents not only expressed continuing citywide support for the Great Park Cemetery site; they rejected the “land-swap” being pushed by developer FivePoint Communities.

The land-swap would kill the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park, move it miles away to land near the Irvine Train Station and the El Toro “Y,” and turn over the 125-acre Great Park site to FivePoint for commercial development and possibly residential development as well.  By killing the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park and replacing it with development, nearly 10,000 average daily auto trips would be added to Irvine Boulevard and other already-overcrowded streets in northern Irvine.

The more that Irvine residents learn about the developer-promoted land-swap, the more unpopular it is. In fact, only about 1 in 8 poll respondents actually favors the Veterans Cemetery land-swap. (Another 1 in 8 are just against any cemetery in town…period!) The Comments, Notes and Letters we’ve received make clear just how strongly Irvine residents feel about this entire matter.  Tare a look at the representative sample of opinions and observations offered by your Irvine friends and neighbors.   — FJL

 

What Do YOU Think?

Do you favor or oppose keeping the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery on the 125-acre site in the Great Park, as planned?

Comments, Notes and Letters

  •       The Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery needs to be in a scenic, restful environment, easily available to surviving family members and friends, not between two noisy freeways.

Timothy Hoffmann

  •       My husband and I have lived here in Irvine for 30+ years.  As long-time residents of Irvine — and my husband is a veteran — we’ve wished and hoped Irvine would someday have a Veterans Cemetery.  When we heard of such plans in the making, we were excited.  You can’t imagine the joy.  All these years of wishing and hoping, the Veterans Cemetery was actually going to come true.  Irvine is our home, and no other resting place has ever crossed our minds.  To see what transpired in the April 4th meeting — with Councilmember Shea and Mayor Wagner and Councilmember Melissa Fox’s added language [in support of the FivePoint “land swap”] — deeply disturbed us. It’s shameful.
    [Name withheld on request]
  •      I can’t believe that big money is corrupting this once beautiful city, and residents are so naïve about this whole corruption process.  Look at the constant recycling of puppet Councilmembers.  The big money of FivePoint keeps them in power.

Ron Sal

  •       It is absolutely shameful that the interests of FivePoint Communities should trump the desires of the veterans and spouses and children of veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War (like my husband), the Vietnam War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our veterans served to secure our freedom, not to enable FivePoint Communities to profit from the land in the Great Park meant for the burial of our veterans.

Ernestina Benson

  •      FivePoint has opined that Chinese residents would object to the Great Park location for the Veterans Cemetery because of feng shui issues.  This is contradicted by the situation at nearby Pacific View Memorial Cemetery; homes abut the cemetery, and the cemetery is the burial place for many Chinese families.

David Proctor

  •       There should be no higher priority on City government officials’ agenda than to bring the Veterans Cemetery to fruition.

John J. McNamara III

  •       Having a place for our veterans to rest is far more important than bringing more housing and more people to an already crowded city.

Jessica Bern

  •       The best land here is where the best Americans should be put to rest — in the Great Park.  I would also like to see affordable housing for the living veterans here in the Great Park.  Then it would live up to its name.  I know a disabled female veteran who lives in her car.  Disgraceful.  My father was a disabled World War II veteran, and he received $19 a month for his injury.  When we value our military, it means more than a bumper sticker and a flag pin on your lapel.  It means paying taxes and honoring their service too.

Luette Forrest

  •       I do not want to see a graveyard whenever I go through the Great Park.  The Great Park is for living people.  The Great Park should have something special to tell the world about its greatness — like a Multicultural Center to show how different cultures can live in harmony.

Anupam Bajaj

  •       We will honor our Heroes and their families by building the Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park!  It will forever honor all the veterans.

Thomas Serna

  •       The Veterans Cemetery should stay in its original site, where it is planned.  It is a quiet and much better location.  Do not let the developers win.  They are already ruining Irvine.

Cindy Davis

  •       Councilmember Melissa Fox outfoxed us all…I wasn’t expecting that!  I am disappointed.  I asked her to explain her position on Facebook and haven’t heard anything.  This is so not
    the Fox I voted for.  I do not want FivePoint to control one more thing in Irvine!

Joanne Slobodien

  •       I absolutely support a Veterans Cemetery on the Great Park site.  We do not need any additional housing on the site.  Housing was never part of the original plan.

Pat Wilhoit

  •       There can be no more fitting way to honor our veterans and the history of the El Toro Marine Corps Airbase — where the Great Park is located — than to proceed with the Veterans Cemetery project.  The Cemetery should remain in the more dignified and peaceful setting that was originally chosen for it!

Cathy Calkins

  •       Melissa Fox is a disappointment because she did not fully support the Great Park location for the Veterans Cemetery.

Corliss Houston

  •       The FivePoint site is better for the Veterans Cemetery.  It’s less expensive for the City and State.

—John Eric Yopes

  •       I want to see a Veterans Cemetery built in the fastest, most sensible way.  It matters less to me where it is located.

Mary Orr

  •       The Veterans Cemetery is about recognizing our Veterans who have served our country.  It is not about corporations or special interest groups, led by FivePoint, that look at the bottom line only.  It is obvious FivePoint is trying to buy their way with the City Council to sell more homes.

Jon Brownell 

  •       FREE LAND FOR FIVEPOINT!

Larry Bales

  •       The Veterans Cemetery should be south of the Great Park, on land that is still a part of the Marine Corps Airbase.

Bill Sandlin

  •       We were promised that a Veterans Cemetery would be built in the Great Park.  It’s time to take action and get it built, without further delay and without interference from outsiders.

Marshall Goldman

  •       The voters of Orange County voted to have the Great Park be for all people, no matter where they live.  It is the people’s park.  The Veterans Cemetery is a memorial in honor of all veterans, and it should be located in the Great Park.

Susan Sayre 

  •       I know who Mayor Wagner is looking out for — and it’s not the citizens of Irvine.

David Day

  •       We voted for the Veterans Cemetery, and now having this held up is heartbreaking.

Bobi Rush

  •       The plans for the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery in the Great Park have been approved.  I see this latest effort to change the location as a way to stall moving forward with the Veterans Cemetery.  I am very upset that the City Council is so willing to favor FivePoint.  It seems to me that money talks more than the will of Orange County citizens.

Susan Finn

  •       Please, please, let’s get this Veterans Cemetery started before anyone else tries to sabotage it. We would like to see the original Great Park site for the Veterans Cemetery — and not the land-swap.

Janice Konkol

  •       Please, please, let’s get this Veterans Cemetery started before anyone else tries to sabotage it.

Jim and Jennfer Korb

  •       I feel there should be more park space, trees, benches and walking trails at the Great Park.  I don’t feel a Cemetery is the appropriate use of this most valuable property.

Patricia D. Weinstock

  •       I am a veteran, and I would very much like to see the Great Park at the El Toro Marine Corps Airbase be used partly as a Veterans Cemetery.

Al Martinez

  •       Please, please, please keep the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park!  I will have a permanent resting place in my hometown.

Matthew Wright

  •       I oppose building cemeteries.  It would be more ideal to revamp the Great Park into an amphitheater, which all families can enjoy with their loved ones.

Julie Lee

  •       You know, in all my days I don’t ever recall hearing anyone say, “I dream of someday being laid to rest in some ungodly junction between freeways.”  The Veterans Cemetery was always to be located in a peaceful setting.

Agapito Soto

  

At the May 23rd City Council meeting, Angelo Vassos, an Air Force veteran and 51-year resident of Irvine, testified as follows:

I don’t understand why the City Council would consider dropping a site for the Veterans Cemetery that has already been approved at all levels of government — our City, the State, and the Federal government.  By legislation, a site within the Great Park has been designated which would be maintained by the State of California in perpetuity, with no cost to the residents of Irvine.

On the other hand, if we factor in politics and money (lots of money) spent by developers to elect two Council members [Christina Shea and Mayor Don Wagner], it becomes clear what’s going on.  The greed of the developers who would interrupt and change the Veterans Cemetery project so they can make still more money has become the deciding factor in this City.  It shouldn’t be that way. No fellow veteran that I have spoken with who lives in Irvine agrees with this developer land-swap boondoggle.


Letters to the editor are welcome.  Please include your name and ZIP code.  Letters for publication must be addressed to Editor, 4199 Campus Drive, Suite 550, Irvine, CA 92612 or email Editor@IrvineCommunityNews.org. Letters may be edited for publication. Unpublished letters will not be acknowledged or returned.


 

ICNV Staff

ICNV Staff

ICNV staff writers are local Irvine journalists who are personally familiar with the events and issues about which they write.
ICNV Staff