In Irvine, CA, Orange County's Great Park (OCGP, www.ocgp.org) is moving forward even in a down economy. The Great Park is being developed on the former Marine Corp Air Station El Toro, constructed in 1942, in the early years of WWII. The base formally closed on July 2, 1999. Under the Great Park Plan, the 4,639-acre El Toro property will become a master planned community.
The Great Park Board recently approved the Comprehensive Park Design presented by Master Designer Ken Smith and the Great Park Design Studio. The approval moves the Great Park from the planning and design phase to the production phase.
"The Comprehensive Park Design is an important milestone," said Larry Agran, chair, Orange County Great Park Board Corporation. "It reflects nearly three years of hard and productive work on the part of Master Designer Ken Smith and his talented team. Our philosophy has always been plan first — then build."
Design elements include the Sports Park, Wildlife Corridor, Agua Chinon, upper and lower canyon, the Lake, the Bosque, agriculture elements, and many other features identified by a variety of stakeholders throughout the planning and design process. The Comprehensive Park Design features sustainable infrastructure, including renewable energy generation, non-polluting Park shuttles, connections to mass transit, water reclamation and natural water treatment systems, and recycling of runways to build a variety of Park features.
The Orange County Great Park Plan will provide a wide array of active and passive uses, including a 2.5-mile canyon and 20-plus-acre lake, miles of walking and biking trails, a cultural terrace, Orange County's largest sports park, botanical gardens, and a tethered helium observation balloon that will be an icon for the Great Park. More than 3,885 of the 4,700 acres will be dedicated to open space, education and other public uses.
The Orange County Great Park will include over 1,300 acres of magnificent public spaces, including:
- Great Lawn
- Performing Arts Venue
- Veterans Memorial
- Aircraft Museum
- Sports Park
- 974-acre nature preserve
- Wildlife corridor linking the Cleveland National Forest to the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
The Irvine City Council and Great Park board of directors have voted unanimously to accept a donation of 5,000 Valencia Olinda citrus trees from the Great Park Conservancy, which received the generous gift from Halvajian Desert Nursery in Thermal, CA. The trees will ultimately be planted in the OCGP to honor Orange County's rich agricultural history.
"The city of Irvine and the Great Park board profoundly appreciates the Great Park Conservancy's gift of Valencia Olinda trees," said Sukhee Kang, mayor, city of Irvine and director, Orange County Great Park Corporation. "Our goal is to preserve Orange County Great Park's history for the benefit of its visitors, today and in the future."
The 5,000 Valencia Olinda citrus trees are all approximately 2-1/2 years old, and 18 inches to 20 inches in height. The trees will be placed in a temporary nursery located at the southwest corner of the Great Park, near Marine Way. The trees can be maintained within their original 15-gallon containers for up to three years. At the end of the three years, they will be moved to permanent, in-ground locations for use in the OCGP. The trees will reach maturity within 18 months of planting.
The role of the Great Park Conservancy is to generate and maintain public and private support throughout Orange County and beyond for the development and operation of the OCGP.