Irvine Halts Plans for Veterans Cemetery

Irvine Halts Plans for Veterans Cemetery
The Irvine City Hall and Civic Center building in Irvine, Calif., on Oct. 12, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Jack Bradley

The city council in Irvine, California, took no action to construct a Veteran’s Memorial Park and Cemetery at the Orange County Great Park, following long debates paired with mixed opinions from the public.

The council held a June 22 presentation about two potential Great Park sites for the cemetery. Both are on the El Toro Marine Base.

The first site is called Amended and Restated Development Agreement (ARDA), and the other is a land parcel zoned for a golf course.

Councilman Larry Agran, a longtime supporter of the ARDA site, proposed a resolution to begin construction there by September. The proposal received no support from fellow councilmembers

“I am going to continue to press forward with my resolution,” Agran told The Epoch Times on June 23.

“I’m going to try to bring it up again at the council or the Great Park board meetings that we hold once a month.”

The resolution would have directed the city manager to determine the first stages of a plan to develop the ARDA site—including demolition, cleanup and site clearance—within 30 days of its approval.

The resolution called for an appropriate 25-acre perimeter park surrounding the cemetery and the entire ARDA site, to account for spacing between nearby residences and the burial grounds. It would have been composed of large berms, trees, trails, memorials, botanical gardens, and other memorial installations.

It also would have established a restoration of 35 forested acres of the ARDA site bounded by Cadence Pusan Way and Irvine Boulevard.

The council previously adopted the Build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery Initiative in May 2020, designating the ARDA site to house the cemetery. However, after opposition from veterans’ groups and members of the public, the council identified other options.

After the June 22 presentation, attended by supporters and opponents of the Great Park sites, the council took no action.

“[Agran’s motion] didn’t seem like it was about the veterans,” Vice Mayor Tammy Kim told The Epoch Times.

“It seemed it was about whatever he has been insistent upon. There doesn’t really seem to be any flexibility.”

Kim said the opposition to the ARDA site “came out in great force” at the council meeting.

“Over 100 veterans’ groups are in support of a location elsewhere to explore, but they won’t be able to explore it if Irvine is hanging onto it,” Kim said.

“I just want the veterans to have a cemetery that doesn’t disrupt the entire neighborhood of people who purchased homes there.”

She was concerned about residents who live near the ARDA site, as many of them were against the idea of a cemetery being built nearby.

“It is extremely close to the residential area,” Kim said. “I just don’t see how we'll be able to keep a cemetery in Irvine without really impacting the residents who live near the cemetery.”

Kim said that if the city went forward with approving the ARDA site for construction, there would be a backlash of lawsuits from residents.

“Residents were fully prepared for a lawsuit,” Kim said. “Any site in Irvine would be mired in lawsuits, and there would be no group that would be happy.”