The Irvine City Council has a special meeting tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. to choose one of two Great Park sites for the Veterans Cemetery.
Irvine Councilmember Lynn Schott was walking Irvine neighborhoods this weekend trying to convince us it is a good idea for the city to spend $40 million more than it has to on building a Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park. Once again, voters got to see for themselves why Ms. Schott has no business conducting their business on the city council.
The City Council has two choices for a veterans cemetery site. One is the original 125-acre, city-owned ARDA site that would cost $80 million to develop. Old runways and buildings have to be removed at an estimated cost of $30 million. The state government has promised up to $30 million, leaving Irvine taxpayers on the hook for the other $50 million. Experience shows you can’t really take Sacramento’s promises to the bank, so Irvine might have to foot the entire $80 million bill.
The other option is a land-swap offered by developer Five Points. Five Points will give the city 125 acres of strawberry fields it owns within the Great Park, near the intersection of the I-5 and I-405 freeways. In exchange the city would deed the ARDA site to Five Points.
Choosing this option with save city taxpayers $40 million we’d have to spend re-mediating the ARDA site. Five Points has also stated it would consider funding the first phase of the Veterans Cemetery development.
There’s going to be a Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park. The veterans groups that have been working toward this goal are just happy one is going built in Orange County.
The only real question is whether we, as Irvine residents and taxpayers, want to spend $40 million more than is necessary?
Now, it takes a special kind of stupid to spend $40 million for something you can get for free. Who does that? If someone offered you a brand new car for free, would you insist on paying full price? Lynn Schott apparently would, judging from her approaching the Veterans Cemetery matter.
Schott doesn’t like Five Points. Fine. Good government isn’t about liking people. It’s about providing the maximum in good public services for a minimum of dollars. Schott’s worried that Five Points will turn a profit on the land swap. So what? Would you turn down a $40 million savings because you’re worried someone else might make some money?
We have a chance to build Orange County’s first Veterans Cemetery and save tens of millions of dollars in the process. But Lynn Schott wants to stick Irvine taxpayers with a $40 million premium because she has a beef with Five Points.
Irvine taxpayers shouldn’t have to pick up the tab for Schott’s pet peeves, and certainly not $40 million worth.