Irvine veteran’s cemetery plans moving forward, with Great Park golf course site under consideration

Spread the love

Discussions about building a veteran’s cemetery in Irvine are ramping up again, this time focused on land planned for a golf course in the Great Park in addition to the original site considered on the park’s northern border.
Whichever location city officials choose, a cemetery likely wouldn’t be open until 2025 – the original site would require a clean-up project and a design would need to be drafted for the golf course property, according to city reports. And more funding would be needed.
State and federal grants are expected to cover as much as $15 million of the cemetery’s cost, and Irvine officials likely will work with state legislators to find more cash, City Manager John Russo said.
“I think we’re going to have to make a strong effort in Sacramento, since this is supposed to be a state cemetery,” he said.
The city has park funds and other money it could chip in, but Russo said with Irvine already donating the property, “Putting money in on top of very valuable land is a Plan B only.”
The city’s Finance Commission discussed the cemetery proposal Monday, Nov. 19, and the Planning Commission will take it up Dec. 6, the first significant movement in several months on a project that’s been dormant since summer.
Local veterans have been seeking a cemetery in Orange County since at least 2014, but the effort was slowed by an argument over whether to build on the first suggested site or one farther south near where the 5 and 405 freeways join.
A majority of the City Council supported a land swap with developer FivePoint to obtain the southern site, but some residents and veterans decried the site switch, arguing the new cemetery location was inferior and a transfer of FivePoint’s development rights – also part of the deal – would worsen traffic problems in the heart of the city.
A citizen-driven ballot initiative to undo the land swap passed in June, so city officials went back to the drawing board.
Russo said if the golf course property is used for the cemetery, some left-over land could become a nine-hole course, botanical garden or some other use, but nothing will go forward until the council picks a site.