Irvine City Council to decide June 6 on location for veterans cemetery
The special meeting was called for after news that the state of California would commit $10 million less to cemetery construction for the ARDA site than was estimated. The budget for the ARDA site, a 125-acre parcel located off of Irvine Blvd. near Portola High School, was $80 million. The reduced funding from the state for the ARDA site means a $50 million budget shortfall. The city of Irvine would be required to make up the difference.
“We’re $50 million short,” Mayor Wagner told the OC Register, “and I am not a fan of the city spending $50 million it doesn’t have to spend.”
Mayor Wagner, along with Councilmember Christina Shea have long been supporters of building the veterans cemetery at the alternate site, which is located near the 5 and 405 freeways and is currently a strawberry field. The alternate site is expected to cost much less because it does not require the demolition of structures that would be required at the ARDA site, including the removal of more than 70 buildings, parts of concrete runways, and underground utilities.
After being approached by the Orange Country Veteran's Memorial Park Foundation to discuss alternative locations that could be built sooner and for less taxpayer money, developer FivePoint has offered the alternate site to the city.
The decision to vote on the cemetery location was previously scheduled for the June 27 council meeting, but Mayor Wagner indicated that there was no reason to wait, now that the state had provided its significantly reduced budget for the project.