On Tuesday, July 26, the Great Park Board will discuss the annexation of the ARDA site inside the Great Park. The item, according to a memo, presents the Great Park Board to move forward with a new Framework Plan for future Great Park development, including a veteran’s memorial, botanical gardens and other features.   

“Annexation of the ARDA site into the Great Park provides resolution on this topic and provides clarity on the issue as the city contemplates moving forward with a new Framework Plan that covers both the Great Park property and the ARDA Site,” the memo read. 

In addition to the aspect of annexation, directors of the Great Park Board will also get their first look at a new Framework Plan proposal the Irvine City Council voted to direct city staff to introduce. The Framework Plan proposal outlines the first phase of development, which includes clearing the ARDA site of old buildings, then designing a 31-acre botanical garden and a 24-acre veteran’s memorial. 

An attached memo on the Great Park board meeting agenda indicates that Phase 1 Framework will encompass approximately 300 out of 750 acres. 

“The Phase 1 Framework Plan also proposes an organizational plan for locating other priority uses in the Great Park, including: a permanent amphitheater, integration of passive park spaces, adaptive reuse of the historic hangars in the Cultural Terrace, improvements to the Bosque trail, and updates to the Sports Park to include the addition of an aquatics center in partnership with USA Water Polo, a gym, enhanced public spaces, and food and beverage options. The first phase encompasses approximately 300 acres, and creates a framework for future development on the over 450 acres that remain to be built at the park in the years to come,” according to the memo. 

The ARDA site, formerly the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, has become a focal point in Irvine over the last few years due to multiple land use studies performed on the site.

In 2021, when Irvine was debating on where to place a veteran’s memorial park and cemetery, a dual-site feasibility study performed by the California Department of Veterans Affairs found the ARDA site to be less cost effective by more than $30 million

Ultimately, the city of Irvine was unable to select a location for a veteran’s cemetery, and the project quickly gained momentum — and the support from the Orange County Board of Supervisors — at a site in Gypsum Canyon

Most recently, in February, the Irvine City Council approved a $125 million feasibility study for a potential botanical garden on the site.

The Great Park Board Meeting is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on July 26

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