The tale of why a Veterans Cemetery most probably will not be built on the former El Toro Marine Base mirrors the sordid past of Irvine’s Great Park and how personal politics became more important than the resting place of those that have honorably served our country. The Voice of OC recently summed it up best, “Irvine has been debating whether or not to host a cemetery for longer than the United States’ involvement in both World Wars combined, a debate that to date has not led to any tangible results, except frustrated veterans and lawmakers alike.”
Anti-developer sentiment drove one side of the argument to make sure that a state approved site, known as Strawberry Fields, went down in flames with the defeat of Measure B in 2018. Rather than build on a site supported by veteran’s groups and the state legislature, the campaign to make sure Measure B would be defeated was pushed because that site was offered by a developer. The alternative site, contaminated by decades of use by the military, has a starting clean-up price of $100 million.
Once Measure B was defeated, then Supervisor Todd Spitzer brought forward the Gypsum Canyon Site in Anaheim at the intersection of the 241 Toll Road and the 91 Freeway. The over 200-acre parcel would also include 100 acres of a public cemetery. This site is now supported by a vast majority of veteran groups as well as the County Board of Supervisors.
It’s time to put personal politics aside and focus on supporting the Orange County veteran community. Even members of the Irvine City Council are now coming forward and supporting the Anaheim proposal. They realize that either site being considered in Irvine would be in litigation for years. Enough is enough. The Gypsum Canyon site is not only the most viable site at this point it is also the best site for taxpayers. It’s past time to move on from Irvine and move forward to give our veteran’s the honor that they deserve.