We are just weeks away from Veterans Day, which will be observed on November 11th. If our current Mayor, Farrah Khan, had simply followed the law that she and two of her Council colleagues — Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll — adopted in May 2020, designating the Great Park ARDA site as the legal location for the community-supported and voter-approved Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery, construction would be underway right now.

Instead, here we are in the midst of the latest scheme hatched by billion-dollar-developer FivePoint and embraced by Khan, Kuo and Carroll to abandon plans for the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the Great Park in Irvine.

FivePoint’s quest to grab the valuable City-owned ARDA site at the Great Park for their own massive construction projects has involved one scheme after another. What’s worse, the developer always seems to find willing members of the Irvine City Council who have no problem endorsing these schemes, even if it means ignoring the will of the people.

The latest scheme is particularly cruel to the families of veterans; it pushes the Veterans Cemetery completely out of Irvine and shoves it alongside the busy, polluted 91 freeway (Gypsum Canyon), just a few miles from the Riverside County line, and more than 20 miles from Irvine.

The Irvine-based organization, Veterans for the ARDA Site Cemetery, has studied FivePoint’s latest “alternative” site. Through their research, the all-veterans group has concluded that a Veterans Cemetery will most likely never be built in Gypsum Canyon due to a number of very serious geological and environmental issues. And, since the plans for the Gypsum Canyon site combine the Veterans Cemetery with a public cemetery, veterans’ families would be prevented from receiving valuable veterans burial benefits.

To add insult to injury, thousands of Irvine residents received an anonymous postcard last month, “thanking” Mayor Khan and Councilmembers Kim, Kuo and Carroll for “protecting” the City from a Veterans Cemetery. Can you imagine how betrayed veterans and their families felt when they received that postcard?

In December, Irvine will be celebrating our City’s 50th anniversary. For nearly six decades, the iconic El Toro Marine Corps Air Station was located on the land that is now the Orange County Great Park. When the base was decommissioned and the military transferred 1,300 acres to the City, a promise was made to honor the thousands of men and women who served on the base by building a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the Great Park.

We cannot allow a land-grabbing developer to stop our City from following through on that promise. A single vote by the current City Council is all that is required to get the project back on track at the planned-and-approved Great Park ARDA site on the former military base. I cannot think of a better way to show veterans and their families that Irvine honors their service to our nation … and that we keep our promises.


What Do YOU Think?

Should the City of Irvine keep its promise to establish a State-built Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the planned and approved “ARDA” site at the Great Park in Irvine … or should the planned Veterans Cemetery be relocated to Gypsum Canyon, alongside the 91 freeway near Riverside County?  Click here to take the Irvine Community Poll now.

Franklin J. Lunding