Developer Sends Veterans Cemetery Proposal to Irvine City Council

Runways and hangars at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which is now the site of Irvine's Great Park.

Developer FivePoint Communities has sent the Irvine City Council its general proposal for moving the planned Orange County veterans cemetery from the city’s Great Park to land near the interchange of the 5 and 405 freeways.

“All we’re asking for is an acre-for-acre exchange,” said FivePoint Chief Communications Officer Steve Churm in a phone interview. “We’re not asking for additional entitlements.”

The swap would grant FivePoint the Great Park land, home of the former El Toro Marine Air Station, in exchange for the developer’s acreage adjacent to the freeways. If the swap is approved by the City Council, the proposed cemetery would be moved from the Great Park to the freeway land.

The former El Toro Marine Air Station has strong emotional bonds for many veterans, particularly those from the Vietnam War era who flew from there to combat zones. But the freeway land, at the Bake Parkway exit of the freeway interchange, could be cheaper for taxpayers.

The swap shouldn’t cost Irvine any money, according to the FivePoint proposal summarized in a letter from its Chairman Emile Haddad. Each site contains about 125 acres and no substantial zoning, traffic or environmental issues affect the freeway cemetery land. To read the proposal, click here.

If the cemetery is created on the Great Park site, however, Haddad said in his April 19 letter to Mayor Don Wagner and the City Council, it could cost $30 million to remove existing buildings and other work.

“If the land exchange goes forward, we (FivePoint) would then have that land that has those 70 or so structures,” Churm said. “It would be our responsibility to address that.”

Haddad’s letter also said FivePoint would help fund the first phase of cemetery construction on the freeway site, but didn’t provide specifics.

“We are prepared as a company to help design and construct the first phase of the cemetery,” Churm said, adding there isn’t an estimated cost or any other plans yet.

“We are committed until we see the first phase of the cemetery completed. We feel they (veterans) deserve a place of respect.”

At its April 4 meeting, the council, in a split vote, decided to put $38 million toward the expected $80 million price tag on the Great Park site but also directed city staff to look into the potential land swap with FivePoint.

Councilman Jeff Lalloway and Councilwoman Lynn Schott — both supporters of the Great Park site — voted no.

“This (the freeway plan) is an effort by a developer to get additional homes built within the Great Park,” Lalloway said. “Let’s just say it for what it is — that’s what it is.”

Lalloway did not return calls for comment on last week’s FivePoint proposal.

Churm said in his telephone interview “we’re always considering what the future looks like, but we don’t have any specific plans for that site at this moment.”

Councilwoman Melissa Fox said she was in Sacramento last week meeting with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and the Governor’s staff.

There is no commitment from Gov. Jerry Brown on seeking about $30 million needed to turn the former Marine Air Station into a veterans cemetery, she said.

Despite her initial reluctance, Fox said she likes FivePoint’s proposal so far.

“My concern was that they would come forward with less than what they were saying,” Fox said in a phone interview. “They certainly have come to the table with a real, bonafide offer. Given my background as a lawyer, I want some time to compare the entitlements in there.”

Councilwoman Christina Shea, who brought up the land swap proposal at the last council meeting, said the freeway location is a “far superior” site and the cemetery would be built faster since the city won’t have to address environmental issues.

Although the projected total cost of creating a cemetery at the Great Park site is $80 million, it could be higher because of building demolitions and unforeseen environmental factors like toxic cleanup, she said. FivePoint’s freeway site currently is being used for agriculture

“That (Great Park cleanup) could be a whole other huge cost,” said Shea but, either way, she said it’s time to move forward with the cemetery.

“Let’s put our politics aside and let’s do what’s right for the community,” Shea said in a phone interview. “I’m hoping that they’re (the Governor and Legislature) going to be looking at both sites.”

Nearly three years ago, Quirk-Silva got the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to buy the site at the former El Toro Marine Air Station for a cemetery. After she lost her seat to former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton), all progress on the cemetery stopped. Quirk-Silva won the seat back in November.

In the meantime, the FivePoint land swap proposal was brought before the City Council last year, but was voted down.

Quirk-Silva did not directly comment last week on the FivePoint proposal and instead sent email statements through her press staffer.

“The men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation deserve proper recognition without further delay; and, the taxpayers of Orange County need to know they will not be asked to foot the bill for big land developers. I urge all parties to proceed with these two goals in mind,” Quirk-Silva’s email reads.

“There are pluses and minuses to both the current and newly proposed sites, and I am open to being convinced that the new proposal is a better alternative,” reads the email.

The City Council is expected to determine which site to pursue in June.

Brown and two top Assembly Democratic leaders are expected to visit the Great Park site in early May.

Brown’s office has not responded for comment about whether he would seek the roughly $30 million for the Great Park site.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. He can be reached at spencercustodio@gmail.com.

  • Roger Butow

    PS:
    Fellow vets, could we stay on topic here, let’s show each other the respect that the developer & City resentfully do not.
    For those who aren’t vets, realize we’re as diverse as a civilian group, in both our political as well as social views.
    Our burial plots, which we earned, are being used, being abused as real estate swapping pawns, the ongoing outrage that is this bait-and-switch scam.
    If you in OC voted to hand Irvine this multi-billion $$$ toy, to be used in ways at their sole discretion, then YOU should be upset too.
    As vets, we’re accustomed to the short end of the stick (FUBAR, SNAFU), but understand our simple, humble requests. We shouldn’t be forced to argue in these forums, that takes some of what residual dignity we have left.
    And if you, who never served, sense residual anger, you’d be angry too if someone did this to those you love.
    Because at day’s end, regardless of MOS, regardless of branch of service, we’re brothers and sisters who understand our sacrifices.

  • Roger Butow

    Ungrateful spin doctors.

    As vets, per usual, we lose one way or the other….we either lose time impatiently arguing among each other or we lose face for begging on bended knee for what should never have become a confrontation to begin with, our right after offering up our lives.

    Neither the developer or Irvine loses anything. They’re accustomed to arguing using other people’s time & money.

    They already lost my respect and many like-minded citizens years ago.

    • They never earned or had my respect, I remember riding along I-5 from the Blimp Hangars to Dana Point it was all citrus groves, then came Mission Viejo, Then Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, and the other overpriced 3000 to 4000 sq ft homes built on 6000 sq ft lots with views overlooking your neighbors bedroom…

    • LFOldTimer

      They lost your respect?

      They never had mine.

  • Roger Butow

    Hasn’t anyone in this fiasco any sense of shame, a conscience?

    Mortal flesh & blood pawns in geopolitical war games, now ignobly reduced to the fiscal blame game of Boardwalk® that has desecrated our resting place.

    What’s so GREAT about that?

    And you know what star has 5 points, turned upside down is the sign of evil?

    • LFOldTimer

      You know that politicians have no shame, Roger. Let’s not leave any doubt when it comes to whether a duck waddles and quacks.

      Next they will tell us that the freeway site was a former sacred burial ground for the mythical gods of ancient history, which makes it even more appropriate for our fallen hero Vets.

      I mean wouldn’t you find it attractive to be placed under the same grass shared with Zeus and Ares?

  • Roger Butow

    Ltpar:
    As I wrote, the ENTIRE air station constituted a toxic waste disposal site. And in sense, most was contaminated BEFORE the dangers, the hazards, the science revealing them as such substances was known. Ignorance was the primary culprit.
    (1) The former Irvine Ranch site, converted to a military air base in the early 40s (??), used DDT and other pesticides on their crops. That percolated down during significant rainy events.
    (2) Then, during conversion, strong soil sterilizers (herbicides, defoliants, etc.) were used before laying down the runways. This encapsulated the contaminants somewhat: Except in areas left as open soil, permeable. They were either accreted in the soil indefinitely just below the hard tarmac and other impervious surfaces, or migrated both laterally and vertically (down) during peak rainy events.
    (3) During its decades as USMCAS El Toro, wing duty Marines used solvents, were sloppy in their use and disposal—all before knowing of their toxicity. So then you had VOCs added to DDT & other chemicals==A toxic cocktail of substances that usually wouldn’t be combined.
    (4) You are PARTIALLY correct: There may be more that has migrated laterally, making remediation of ANY cemetery site chosen subject to remediation. But whatever happened to CAVEAT EMPTOR? Corporations want to make $$$, God knows Irvine does too, it’s called overhead, the price of doing business.

    There are such incredibly YUGE sunk costs in this fiasco, millions of $$$ gone and unaccounted for, and you feel that this City will make a wise, educated decision in the best interest of veterans, let alone the OC taxpayers, the public, everyone they duped? When did this lying City EVER make a wise decision about the Great Pork Barrel Project?
    Per usual, they’ll find a path that coincides with THEIR best political and fiscal interests. Once upon a time it WAS “Orange County? Together, WE can stop an airport.” Then it became “WE (the City of Irvine) no longer need YOU (rest of OC that helped). Butt out. It belongs to US now.”
    A cash cow, they milked it dry, cried when redevelopment funds weren’t available to bail out and refloat their TITANIC, and now we’re supposed to cut them some fiscal slack? Whining, they’ll recoup that $30 million in a few years.
    An ungrateful, greedy place—It might be considered safe by some, but it’s behavior has been unethical, immoral and de facto criminal.

  • Roger Butow

    LFOld Timer:
    Small correction? As a Marine veteran from the Vietnam era (mid to late 60s), as someone who was stationed at MCAS El Toro for my last few months before being honorably discharged, those of us in the USMC were overwhelming volunteers, not drafted.
    So we didn’t join when our names/#s came up. We were patriots, offered up our lives, and in a real sense that of our families to serving our nation.
    I not only served there, but volunteered my Laguna-based NGO (Clean Water Now) to track the CERCLA (Superfund) Conversion/Cleanup/Remediation of the site. We wanted to be sure that nothing was swept under the rug, that the site would be truly safe before being handed over to civilians.
    As founder & Executive Director of CWN, I attended not only the general stakeholder meetings led by the DOD, but the Hazardous Waste Sub-Committee meetings—much smaller, more intense and focused meetings.
    In that sub-committee, over the course of time, I learned that the remediation was going to take nearly DOUBLE the original projected cost (went from ≈ $500 million—-Over $1 billion in just a few years time).
    That base was a LOT more polluted than originally revealed: Not just topical soil over the entire site’s surface, but residual radioactive substances, complex detritus the dump areas. The aquifer beneath was highly contaminated with Persistent Organic Pollutants like TCE, PCE, etc., had percolated down and contaminated billions of gallons of what WAS used as potable (drinking) water by the base! So if you are civilian and worked there, served there, you/yours swam, bathed in and drank highly contaminated, carcinogenic substances; Think Camp Le Jeune. Same deal, just less publicized.
    It was ironic that once they were shown the door, Krom & Agran SUDDENLY became concerned about the contamination—something that knew was literally EVERYWHERE on the base
    Originally, the Imperial Roman Water District, oops, IRVINE RANCH WD, said it would take 15-20 years to pump & clean that aquifer. Whattyaknow, eventually that was raised to 40+ years (or more).
    EVERYTHING about this turkey of a Park was oversold, exaggerated: Not just the $$$ to convert, to remediate, but the promises made.
    Including OUR cemetery. ON the feeling base, not dumped into a shrill, noisy and air-polluted corner. You, Irvine, didn’t want to hear jets in your precious homes? Well, we as veterans don’t like the idea of our families visiting our graves, or others honoring our service, to be deafened by freeway noise, choking and coughing on hydrocarbon pollutants. Graves sullied, stained by that layer of pollution.
    I agree with Dweezil.Di…….the old blimp/helicopter site would have been preferable. Landlocked, accessible.
    And Irvine? What’s $30 million when your coffers are going to be stuffed FOREVER with taxes and local revenues? You got your 30 pieces of silver and are poised to get 30 pieces forever: You suckered the rest of OC into supporting your vision, your crass stealthy revenue model. You got our help, then abandoned it as soon as your developer began waving more $$$ under your noses. Judas’.
    So honoring our service, our injuries and deaths, has a cost ceiling? What’s the price of freedom?
    BETRAYAL is the theme: Larry (No Plan B) Agran brought his shill Mike Ellzey (a close Bay Area bro’ of Haddad @ LENNAR) down to Irvine, and if browsers have the time, go to http://www.salem-news.com if you want to read my investigative columns on Ellzey’s bogus USMC career. Google® my name & Ellzey’s. Be prepared to be shocked AND disgusted. There are other columns by other Marines who served there too at this online.
    A fluffed, illegitimate portfolio got Ellzey into a key position, enabling Haddad to insinuate HIS agenda into the mischief. Notice Ellzey left the sinking ship, the Titanic that the Great Park became just ahead of a criminal investigation?
    Truly, verily, CHINATOWN in SOC.
    It’s embarrassing to even discuss the ridiculous aspect, that there’s even any question as to what we deserve.
    PS: As for those who compose the self-appointed veteran’s committee that’s negotiating the final choice? With all due respect, has it occurred to you that you don’t represent ALL of us? Thank you for keeping this topic in the forefront, but don’t become manipulated, part of the same betrayal cabal. Do as we Marines did in Vietnam: Don’t give ground, because it’s not YOURS but actually OUR ground. We earned it via our blood, sweat and tears.

    • LFOldTimer

      It appears that we agree on most of the important point: That the Vets are deserving of a resting place in the Great Park and not next to a da*n freeway on the back of the bus. We may offer different reasons for our opinions – but at the end of the day we agree on the same outcome.

      Nearly all the people I knew who served during the Vietnam War were drafted. This, of course, is not to say that others enlisted (like you). No doubt that is true. I have no idea whether Dweeze was drafted or whether he enlisted. I don’t recall him saying. I was not drafted. I enlisted as well.

      The bottom line is that when many received their draft notices they ran off to Canada (or elsewhere) or in some way evaded their call to duty while others either voluntarily enlisted or obeyed the instructions on their draft notice and showed up to the inception center. That’s why IMO those who served during the Vietnam era are a “special breed” deserving of high praise and honor. I hope I made that point perfectly clear so that you understood it.

      I would be interested to know how many of those who served during the Vietnam era while the draft system was in operation voluntarily enlisted and how many were drafted. My guess is that more were drafted than enlisted. But I concede I may be wrong. It would be an interesting fact to uncover.

      Enjoy your day.

      • Roger Butow

        Most credible websites (like this one: http://www.uswings.com/about-us-wings/vietnam-war-facts/) agree that ≈ 2/3 of Vietnam vets enlisted, were not drafted.
        The USMC in the mid-60s was ALL volunteer.
        Only anomalies I ever encountered, ever heard about were young men getting into trouble, hauled before a judge who purportedly told them “Join the Marines or go to jail?”
        Not sure if that’s a myth or not.
        Also, another rumor was that having difficulty getting volunteers here in California, the USMC offered 3 year enlistments to us as unique, instead of the usual 4. I was a 3 year enlistee myself. Not sure if that was true in other states.
        As for our burial plots, to me it isn’t the money, it’s about the ethics. Having broken nearly every promise about the base conversion, Irvine keeps finding ways to renege. They’ve walked back every issue to benefit their best interest.
        Lip service respect is just that, what Irvine seems to excel at. Now that I think about it more, they don’t deserve what we symbolize/represent or our bodies as homages, as honorable shrines because it’s they, not us, who’ve acted and served the people dishonorably.
        Color me Corporal Disgusted……….

        • LFOldTimer

          “Not sure if that’s a myth or not.”

          No. It wasn’t a myth. I’ve heard of cases where judges offered those options to those young men who found themselves in trouble with the law. And if it happened in my neck of the wood, it undoubtedly happened across the nation.

          In fact, when I enlisted and went to the reception center prior to basic, we had an amnesty box in the room. The DI told everyone that if they had any weapons or illegal paraphernalia to drop it in the box and nothing would be said. At least 5 guys got up and dropped large bladed knives (like Bowie knives) in the box. Clunk, clunk, clunk. Another dozen or so dropped what appeared to be baggies containing white or brown powder and vegetable matter in the box. As a kid from a decent neighborhood my mouth was agape. I mentally asked myself “What the he*l did I get myself into?”. But overall it was a good experience for me. Would I do my tour of duty over again? Absolutely. But I still wouldn’t make a career of it.

          Ok. So most military personnel during the Vietnam era were enlistees. I’ll buy that. But it really doesn’t matter the reason someone decided to enter the military. Does it? The fact that they served is what’s important. Especially when many cut and ran. That’s why I labeled the Vietnam Vets as a “special breed”. All of them – regardless of their means of entry into the military.

          If you read over my previous comments you would not that I believe the Vets should have a resting place on the MAIN Great Park parcel predicated on a matter of HONOR. Plain and simple. I contend that the resistance to provide that specific resting place by the politicians, the developers and the rich people who intend to buy property there is based solely on MONEY! So this is a VALUES question that comes down to HONOR vs. MONEY. I hope I made that clear.

          I think we are on the same page when it comes to that.

      • I was not drafted, as my basic training class was finishing at Ft Ord in Sep/Oct of 1970 the Army was converting to the VOLAR Volunteer Army, My draft number was something like 300 so the likelihood of being drafted was actually really slim. For a time I worked Civil Liason & AWOL App capacity at Ft MacArthur, it was ironic that most of the AWOLS were voluntary enlisted but either thought partying was more important, got into trouble while on leave, or were disenchanted. Personally I feel duped, I joined to fight communist aggression, but soon learned it was more about supporting the US war machine aka DIC. And who won that war, Communist Vietnam & Communist China seem to be profiting well from their US Trade situations.

        Also I personally believe that the pollution clean up costs should have zero effect on Dead Veterans. I see it as a cost saving effect… but I may be incorrect on that.

        • LFOldTimer

          Oh. You were a lucky dog. Ord was a choice duty for basic. You weren’t forced out on bivouac for a week during tornado touchdowns and had to try to sleep in a half-shelter in half a foot of mud. Or march 20 miles in icy rainstorms with blisters covering the bottom of your feet. They spoiled you.

          Well, I congratulate you. You were one of the few who understood your true purpose in the Army. But you had the guts to hang in there and finish your commitment. There were ways of exiting on a general discharge w/o going AWOL, btw. But you persevered and that’s worth an ‘atta boy’.

          Oh yes. If I chose to be buried in the ground at the Vets cemetery at the GP and 40 years later it was discovered that they put me 6 feet deep in a toxic waste dump – if I performed an act of resurrection (mimicking Jesus) at some future time the City of Irvine would have he*l to pay.

  • dc matthews

    I can’t see an upside for veterans to the delay and change it also looks like it will be 2 separate parcels near he freeway with far less land value to a developer? So its like a giveaway to the developer with no proposals of affordable or accessible housing or any other reason for veterans to give up nicer location and faster implementation? Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • I remember flying on Marine C-130’s out of El Toro. I would like to see a map of the proposed location adjacent to the 5/405 junction. But all in all as a veteran I am insulted at the Irvine City Council even giving this suggestion any consideration at all, but a good question not asked, are any of the council members veterans? I seriously doubt it, from what I read on their websites they were all more interested in making money than serving the country in times of need.

    • Perhaps the thought of a Veterans Cemetery would have been better at the old Tustin blimp base, that would have been better, however the county needed another shopping center with a Home Depot about a mile from the next closest one. Oh wait, the water table was only about 5 to 6 feet deep there.

    • LFOldTimer

      “But all in all as a veteran I am insulted at the Irvine City Council even giving this suggestion any consideration at all, but a good question not asked, are any of the council members veterans?”

      I suspect not. Maybe they were self-appointed armchair generals while sipping on a brewski and watching the nightly news 8,000 miles from the battle scene but I seriously doubt that any of them ever heard a shot fired.

      IMO a real Vet wouldn’t send fellow Vets to the back of the bus or put them on the back nine.

      As I previous stated, this is a question of VALUES: Money vs. Honor and Respect for Our Nation’s Warriors.

    • Philip

      Dweezle, look at the link below. Both proposed sites with maps in OC Register. You may need to cross reference Pusan Way and other land features, but you can see where they are proposing.

      http://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/27/gov-brown-to-revisit-irvines-great-park-for-tour-of-proposed-veterans-cemetery-sites/

      • I looked at the proposed map, I am not impressed, I had to go to google maps to see a better view. I see it is right next to the Irvine Auto center and the big problem I see is the maps are clearly marked CONCEPT PLAN SUBJECT to CHANGE, which means Dream Sheet. a pretty picture in concept, for the alternative, and the Great Park drawing is pretty barren, I am guessing the developer created the drawings to sell their alternative. as many of us know the concept is seldom what turns up. Just wait for the Auto center to start using the site for storing their excess vehicles.

      • Thanks for the info BTW

  • Brian Dixon

    The Great Park and veterans are now being moved out to a freeway frontage site? My hearing aids may be good, but I won’t be able to hear the Chaplin’s last words nor those of a vet’s family members if the cemetery is placed on that freeway frontage.
    The Great Park keeps shrinking at every turn, is Emile really wanting to shrink it more than he has already by taking advantage of an impatient council? Will the “City” Council approve this further shrinkage? Or, are they really the Developer’s Council approving an expansion of the development in the once Great Park?

  • Rose Tingle

    I would like to see politicians consider the quality of life as a priority here in Orange county and not cover every single foot of land with cement. The one thing we don’t need more of in Orange county is traffic and that is what more homes would bring, not to mention the need for more services. And speaking of services, one of the real NEEDs is a nonprofit humane society campus in Orange county. San Diego County, which has the same population, has 3 county animal shelters and 4 nonprofit humane society campuses which assist with adoptions and teach Humane Education to children, have summer camps, social events which raise millions, etc, vs Orange county which has 1 county animal shelter and zero nonprofit humane society campuses, very behind I would say. I also believe the Veterans Cemetery should logically be built at the Great Park where Marines once were stationed, as a sign of respect.

    • LFOldTimer

      “I also believe the Veterans Cemetery should logically be built at the Great Park where Marines once were stationed, as a sign of respect.”

      It seems to me that should be the common rational position of anyone who truly appreciates what the vets have done for America,

      This is what it comes down to: Money vs. Vets.

      Those who value money will want to stick the vets next to the freeways on the back nine away from the high brows at the Great Park who believe their wealth supersedes honor for our Vets.
      Out of sight – out of mind.

      Those who value our Vets will want their resting place front and center for everyone to see as they enter the Great Park and former Marine Base so that they can pay their respects.

      There is NO question that this is a question of VALUES.

      And you must choose ONE SIDE or the OTHER. There is no waffling. There is no spin. It’s cut and dried. Your decision will define your values. And we’re watching.

  • Ltpar

    Good for Melissa Fox, doing her home work both in Sacramento and at home. I am impressed at her independence and not letting “Bully Boy” Jeff Lalloway and his clone Lynn Schott do the thinking for her.

    • dc matthews

      I like Mellissa Fox, but I see NO benefit for veterans in this plan, just delay and a less desirable location and only more profits for the developer. Seems that land would be better suited to noise controlled commercial or residential buildings. I asked one Veteran involved but he didn’t give me a reason it is a better plan for veterans, can you, officer?

      • LFOldTimer

        There is no upside or “benefit” for the Vet in this ridiculous trade off. They’re trying to sell the Vets down the river. The only “benefit” they’ve mention is to the taxpayer based on the “cheaper” land value. lol. I guess no one told them that all taxpayers are not Vets. lol.

        I will repeat. This is an attempt to shove the Vets to the back of the bus. Anyone who supports moving the Vets next to the freeway yet tells us from the other side of their mouth that they cherish and honor our Vets is as phony as a $3 bill.

        • Ltpar

          If the Vets are being sold down the river, then what have they have been doing in negotiations with Five Points and why do they support the alternative site. I am not an expert on the land values at the Great Park, but would assume somewhere in the forthcoming analysis process, such an assessment and comparison would be done on both sites. You forgot to mention Five Points has agreed to do Phase One of the Cemetery Construction at the alternative site, but nothing on the original site. Knowing how government works, if the Council sticks to the original site, ten years will pass and there will still be no cemetery. No, the Vet’s are not being thrown under the bus and they continues to be actively involved in the negotiation process, as I understand it. I am shocked, does that mean all those $3 bills I have are no good?

          • LFOldTimer

            As a Vet myself I have no idea who the Vets are who you refer to. Keep in mind that not all Vets act in the best interest of other Vets. Some “Vets” forget where they came from. Trust me on that point.

            So what are some reasons that the Vets you refer to claim that sticking fellow Vets next to a freeway interchange on the back nine shows the Vets more honor than putting their resting place in the Great Park and the former Marine Base where they would get much more attention from the general public?

            I notice that you didn’t contest any of my specific arguments on this matter. The ORIGINAL agreement, as I understand it, was to put the Vet’s cemetery on the larger parcel of land in the Great Park. Now they want to CHANGE that original agreement to appease the developers and the rich prospective homeowners who feel slighted by having a Vet cemetery in the proximity of their little mansions.

            So next time be more complete in your comment. I expect that you will not return.

          • Ltpar

            I am a veteran…..USMC 1960 – 1964. Additionally, I have also commented on the mess at both the Sheriffs and District Attorney’s Office. I have never been a fan of our worthless District Attorney, especially since they refused to investigate an obstruction of justice complaint regarding Larry Agran getting his crooked housekeeper out of jail and off the hook. My comments are usually on O.C Weekly, Liberal O.C. and occasionally VOC. I am currently in Colorado, still follow the Orange County News, but not as much as I did when I was home in Irvine. Today’s O.C. Register has a good editorial piece on the Veterans Cemetery and addresses many of your concerns. Bottom line to this issue is, do you want a Veterans Cemetery built in a reasonable timeline or do you want to take the Larry Agran approach and wait ten years and still have no result. I vote for getting it done sooner rather than later.

          • LFOldTimer

            Well thank you for your response.

            I will read the OC Register article. But no doubt the reason for shoving the Vets next to the freeways is M-O-N-E-Y. In fact, I did read an article stating that such a move would save the taxpayers M-O-N-E-Y. That was the primary reason to support the freeway cemetery site.

            So as I have stated REPEATEDLY, this comes down to a VALUES question of which is MORE important? H-O-N-O-R and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for our VETS or M-O-N-E-Y? You have to pick one side or the other.

            You see, not all taxpayers are Vets. In fact, Vets make up only a SMALL MINORITY of total taxpayers.

            So they are already placing priority of the taxpayers over the Vets, even though the Vets were promised the parcel of land at the Great Park for our cemetery.

            I do NOT want to rush things and simultaneously DISHONOR our Vets. I would rather WAIT and HONOR our Vets appropriately. Our Vets deserve the best!!!

          • Ltpar

            We agree on one thing, “Vets deserve the best.” Knowing the intent of at least two of the Irvine City Council Members (Christina Shea & Don Wagner), I can state without hesitation, while saving taxpayer dollars is high on their list, shorting the Veterans is not. They are realists because Don Wagner having served in the California Assembly understands there will be no 30 million coming from Jerry Brown. Additionally, they both understand what the tentative clean up and tear down costs will be on the original site. Those costs alone could postpone the cemetery indefinitely until other financing is found. I do not believe this will be a National Veterans Cemetery, so limited funding, if any can be expected from the Feds. I am certain, all these issues will be presented in the final analysis of the two sites presented in June. Melissa Fox being an objective participant on the Council, unlike Lalloway or his clone Lynn Schott, is working to hash our the facts on the cemetery for herself. I am confident in June, she will make the right decision on the two sites. Bottom line is the cemetery needs to be built with no further delay and at the earliest possible time.

          • LFOldTimer

            “We agree on one thing, “Vets deserve the best.”

            If you really believe that then you would support the Vet’s resting place at the Great Park where it was originally intended. There are TWO separate and distinct choices here. On one side is the MONEY, on the other is HONOR AND RESPECT FOR OUR VETS. Putting them next to a freeway interchange is NOT honor and respect, regardless of how you might try spin it.

            Same with Shea and Wagner. The choice is CLEAR and unambiguous. If they truly honor and respect our Vets they will support their resting place near the multi-million dollar mansions. If not, they’ll support the BIG MONEY. Very easy analysis.

            I don’t care if Wagner served 100 years in the State Legislature. That means nothing to me. I just watch his vote. That tells me EVERYTHING I need to know.

            Irvine has already wasted about a quarter of a billion dollars on their little pet project with NOTHING to show for it but a stupid orange balloon in the air. $30 million is a drop in the bucket. So please, don’t start throwing dollars and cents at us. It appears that you are leaning in the direction of the BIG MONEY over honor and respect for our fallen Vets.

            And the FINAL DECISION will tell us all that we need to know. We will be able to spot the phony Vet supporters and the genuine Vet supporters. Very simple. Let’s not complicate the matter, shall we?

          • Ltpar

            The only one complicating things is you. It is called “lack of common sense.”

          • LFOldTimer

            Since you weren’t specific, re: the ‘lack of common sense” claim, you lose the debate by default.

            But thanks for coming out to play anyway.

          • Can you tell me what veterans have been involved in negotiations? Not one member of the ICC is a veteran, they are all fat cat lawyers & real estate persons that never served anything but their bank accounts. The same goes with Lennar, (Five Points) not one board member is a vet, in fact Haddad abandoned his home in Beirut Lebanon when our 200 marines were killed by a car bomb. (and Reagan ran away)

          • Ltpar

            While not directly at the negotiation table, several Veterans Groups, as well as a number of individuals have been at all the Council meetings, listened to the pros and cons and support the alternate site. While you seem to be an authority on who is and is not a veteran, are you one yourself? If so, how many meetings have you attended to gather information on both sites?

          • Yes, I am a veteran, I served in the US Army from 1970 thru 1978. I am not in California but I do my research.

          • Ltpar

            Thank you for your service and you have earned the right to speak for or against the Cemetery. My big concern is if it is built on the original site, there will not be enough money to get it started, much less completed. With the alternate site, construction will start by the end of the year. I would like for it to be finished before I need to use it and I am guessing it won’t be that long. Best wishes.

          • As if the ICC actually listens to comments from the (what they consider the peanut) gallery.

      • Ltpar

        I don’t have all the facts on the Veterans Cemetery, but when you look at the State of California fiscal status, only a fool thinks Jerry Brown is going to ante up 30 million dollars for a cemetery in Irvine. Now take the original site, objections by some nearby residents, the School District and potential clean up costs at 30 million dollars (Could be more if military toxic wastes are found) and the old site doesn’t look so good. Bottom line question is, who picks up the extra costs? If you say Irvine taxpayer, the City Council will be strung up by the neck. While a Veterans Cemetery is important to the community, if taxes go up when there are other ways of building it, there will be hell to pay. At this point, I suggest keeping both options on the table and when all the facts, proposals and financing alternatives have been assembled by staff, then the Council can make an educated decision on which site to choose.

        • To me it seems a good location for a cemetery is next to a high school, perhaps children will have an opportunity to visit some of the men & women that gave all and really served this nation instead of spending their lives playing video games or wasting time on athletics. To be honest I can care less about the inflated housing prices dropping for the Chinese occupants.

          • Alex

            Wow . So all of these comments and I’m sensing many of you vets are slightly racist towards “Chinese occupants” and “foreign nationalists” buying up homes. Be very careful with the words you use. It does not suit someone who is supposed to make America proud.

          • Well Alex, Have you been to Irvine? Have you ever been on Campus at UCI during a day classes were in session? I see you have zero profile information and one post. to me (and I believe other regular commentors) you sound like a troll.

          • Alex

            And you sound very prejudiced against Asians. Which is shameful, regardless of if I’m trolling or not. (Not to mention how bored you are to look at my profile and # of posts) If I’m wrong please elaborate your feelings towards the Chinese/Asians who occupy the city, I’d love to hear

          • You know nothing about me. but can learn by reading my profile which also links to my facebook page. I see you have not answered any of my questions, which reinforces my troll label. Neither of my Asian wives or any of my Asian friends consider me biased against Asians. and many are also biased against Irvinites.

          • Ltpar

            Alex, this veteran is not biased against anyone, especially in a diverse city like Irvine. While I might not agree with the Chinese concerns about Feng Suei, I respect their cultural belief. If that were the only reason for moving the location I would not agree to it. That, combined with the other factors leads me to believe the alternate site will best serve our needs.

        • LFOldTimer

          ” If you say Irvine taxpayer, the City Council will be strung up by the neck.”

          Then how did they manage to steal about a quarter of a billion without any public hangings?

          Again, you’re putting a price tag on honoring our Vets. You’re showing your true colors, sir.

          The council majority will ALWAYS back BIG MONEY and their SUGAR DADDIES, Ltpar.

          You know that. Let’s not play games.

          • Ltpar

            Don’t think you know our City Council very well at all. While there are a couple of RINO’s (Lalloway & Schott) who seem to be in the pocket of the Irvine Company, the oter three are not. Christina Shea has been a long time champion for the average citizen, especially veterans. Donald Wagner in his first term as Mayor, appears to be headed the same direction as Shea. The third Council Member, Melissa Fox, the jury is still out on, but she showed a lot of leadership ability in her stand on the veterans cemetery going against the wishes of many of her supporters. By the way, those corrupt politicians who stole a quarter of a billion dollars, should have been strung up by the neck, but the voters just kicked them out of office instead. Sometimes Lady Justice is blind.

        • Karen Jaffe

          My bet is that we still will be….5 Point has put $10m on the table against a $45.6m phase 1 cost. If Jerry doesn’t come through as he’s not expected to, and the VA grant of $10 is 74 out of 101 on the priority list, don’t you think the tax payers will be “asked” for this money?

  • LFOldTimer

    “But the freeway land, at the Bake Parkway exit of the freeway interchange, could be cheaper for taxpayers.”

    Let’s be honest. It would be more profitable for the developers and for the politicians. They respect the rich foreign nationals who will buy the expensive homes at the Great Park more than our Vets. That’s why they want to move the Vets to the less desirable freeway land over on the back nine. They don’t consider the Vets “Great” so why would they give them first class treatment by giving them a resting place at the Great Park? Use your common sense here.

    They only USE the Vets for their own political expedience due to public sentiment. If we were living in the Vietnam era Vets wouldn’t even be in the conversation.

    When did “cheaper” for the taxpayers ever matter? hah.The history of the Great Park is solid evidence that none of them give a da*n about what’s best for the taxpayers. Look at how much taxpayer money they’ve wasted up to this point. So don’t even go there. Stop with the phony excuses!

    THOSE WHO SUPPORT MOVING THE VETS OUT OF THE GREAT PARK AND ON TO THE FREEWAY (BACK OF THE BUS) LAND DO NOT RESPECT OUR VETS. THEY HAVE MUCH MORE RESPECT FOR PROFITS AND FOR THE RICH FOREIGN NATIONAL PROPERTY BUYERS!!!!

    Don’t let them fool you.

    • J Money 74

      Maybe they should move the cemetery to the 909.. what do you think?

      • LFOldTimer

        I’ll assume you’re being sarcastic.

        I’ll one-up you.

        Why not just move it to Nogales, Mexico?

        I’ll see your five and raise you ten.

      • As I recall the Irvine Landfill is full and due to be closed, oops I should not have mentioned that, the ICC may seriously consider it.
        I see Breitfart claims Irvine is the best place in CA and the US for veterans to live, But I am curious how many enlisted & company grade officer veterans can afford to live in Irvine:

        “Irvine home values have gone up 3.5% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 0.1% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Irvine is $456, which is higher than the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim Metro average of $401. The median price of homes currently listed in Irvine is $899,000.
        Irvine CA Home Prices & Home Values | Zillow”

        • dc matthews

          Top tier retired officers with after service CEO jobs? That is even a ridiculous claim for Breitbart the #FAKEFACTS for the Tea Party News.

    • I agree with you Old Timer, I am a Vietnam era vet, and may be eligible to be planted there, I have no interest in getting planted in some unwanted freeway property that may possibly be required at a future time for highway expansion, I would love having a highway overpass on top of me. Let the (possible foreign developer) move their expensive homes to that freeway location. Hey, they may be able to grow strawberries or citrus in their 20 x 50 foot back yards.

      • LFOldTimer

        Thanks for serving at a time when soldiers weren’t given the honor that they deserved, Dweeze.

        Some ran away when the draft notice arrived in the mail. Others didn’t and were scorned for it. Vietnam vets are a special breed.

        You didn’t start the da*n war. You simply showed up when you were called for duty.

        And, yes, if it’s your choice to be planted in the ground then you deserve an HONORABLE resting place away from the freeway pollution and noise in a plot that those who enter the Great Park can stop and pay you your due respects or drive past and tip their hats.

        That’s the very least the Irvine Council owes you.

  • kburgoyne

    “We feel they (veterans) deserve a place of respect.”, Churm said. — Just in someplace less financially advantageous for for-profit development, of course.