Great Park Board Orders Trimmed-Down Business Plan

Irvine City Council members moved forward Tuesday on their new path for the Great Park, directing city staff to submit a rough draft of a five-year business plan that would reduce costs and find new revenue sources.

Acting as the Great Park board of directors, council members also approved issuing a request for proposals for an event programmer for the 2013 Solar Decathlon.

Concern over the city’s ability to pull off the green energy event began after the new council majority eliminated a public relations contract with Forde & Mollrich at the last meeting.

Park staff were directed to temporarily handle marketing and planning for the event.

Staff said that Forde & Mollrich was heavily involved in developing the park’s proposal to persuade the U.S. Department of Energy to choose the Great Park as the Solar Decathlon’s host.

An ad hoc committee that will consist of two council members was also created to receive regular updates on the decathlon event.

Great Park CEO Michael Ellzey emphasized the importance of media sponsorships, marketing and an event programmer to support the event.

Councilman Larry Agran pointed to the park’s large marketing budget in the past as a key reason for the park’s selection for the decathlon event. That budget was significantly cut by the new majority earlier this month.

Some pointed to the decathlon as the most important event in the history of the park.

“Frankly, it could be the driving revenue source for the Great Park,” said Agran.

Mayor Steven Choi called for the Solar Decathlon to be included in the five-year plan. “We don’t have that much time from now until October,” said Choi.

The council members acknowledged that although they were following a 10-year business plan developed in 2009, it would be beneficial to update and follow a shorter-term plan.

The new council majority has said their main focus is construction at the park. The majority has talked about expanding the park through public-private partnerships.

“I would like us to move forward, looking at what we can to do to develop this park,” said Councilwoman Christina Shea. “Maybe we can lease portions of the park.”