Orange County supervisors are scheduled to consider putting $20 million towards a proposed veterans cemetery site east of Anaheim Hills.
The proposal – slated for a vote at their July 27 meeting – is the latest move since supervisors this month publicly doubled down on their support of the cemetery site in Gypsum Canyon just east of Anaheim Hills, which would move the planned site from former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine.
The $20 million proposal – which has support from supervisors Don Wagner and Andrew Do – was revealed in a one-sentence agenda item posted Friday on page two of the board’s supplemental agenda for the July 27 meeting.
If at least one or two other supervisors join them in voting for the item, it would get approved.
“We are so grateful to the Board of Supervisors, who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment and compassion to veterans,” said Nick Berardino, president of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County.
“Their leadership, and the [county] CEO’s skill, has given us hope for the first time in years.”
Wagner, Do and the other three county supervisors didn’t return messages for comment Friday evening.
Unlike most agenda documents, in this case the records don’t say where the money would come from.
The potential site would be off the 91 Freeway, on a plot of county owned land already set to become a public cemetery operated by the Orange County Cemetery District.
The coalition garnered support from a host of different veterans groups in Orange County, including every VFW post in the county and over half a dozen American Legion posts.
The effort also picked up signatures from a wide variety of county political figures, including Congressman Lou Correa, State Senator Josh Newman, and county supervisors Do, Wagner and Katrina Foley.
The organizing was spearheaded by Berardino, the former general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, and other leaders like Bill Cook, one of the veteran’s alliance board members and chair of the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, both recently announced a coalition of veterans were abandoning any site selection in Irvine ahead of an Irvine City Council vote between two potential sites in that city.
In Irvine, there have been two competing proposed sites for the cemetery on the former Marine base.
One of the sites sits at the northern edge of the Great Park, holding onto an air traffic control tower and old hangars, while the other sits on land zoned to become a golf course.
Either site would have space for roughly 200,000 veterans, according to a March presentation from the California Department of Veterans Affairs. The golf course site is expected to cost $74.3 million to construct, while the hangar site is estimated at $110 million.
Earlier this month, state Sen. Tom Umberg shelved a bill that would have designated an Irvine site for state funding as a veterans cemetery, saying he wanted to make sure supporters of the Gypsum Canyon site have an “opportunity to demonstrate viability.”
Voice of OC Reporting Fellow Noah Biesiada contributed reporting.