Seeing is believing when it comes to the best cemetery site for vets in Irvine
Gov. Jerry Brown showed a preference for placing the Southern California Veterans Cemetery on land offered by FivePoint after his recent tour of both sites. “Obviously, I like (the) strawberry patch — ‘Strawberry Fields.’ Remember that song?” Brown said, as reported by voiceofoc.org.
The state has now articulated a position—and mounting evidence points to—the strawberry fields as the most favorable site when considering the cost, the location and the ability to start construction.
That’s not surprising to Irvine City News, because Brown and Quirk-Silva have now done what everyone should do who is interested in the issue: visited both sites for themselves.
Seeing is believing, as is so often said. We believe that objective observers who visit both sites will conclude that the alternate site next to the freeways where millions will view it is the proper place to honor veterans and their service to the country. They should not be tucked away in a corner of the city, where few but their relatives and friends will see their graves. Let’s not put veterans out of site and out of mind. Rather, let’s give them a place of prominence and honor, visible to all who visit our city.
In our last issue we published photographs of both sites. But getting a look in person is always a better option. When Gov. Brown visited our city, he referenced the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” One lyric in that song rings true: “Living is easy with eyes closed; Misunderstanding all you see.”
By seeing, really seeing the two options, perhaps misunderstandings about the virtues of each can be reduced. The ARDA site is closed to the public, but one can get a look at it from Irvine Blvd. near Portola High School, from the end of Chinon, the road right next to the high school, and from Bosque, the road that runs from Irvine Blvd. through the Great Park Neighborhoods.
For a bird’s eye view, we imagine the view from the Great Park Balloon would do well. Or simpler still, just pull up Google Maps, the satellite view, find Portola High School, and look up and to the left.
The alternate site is easier to see. Drive along Alton Pkwy., between Barranca and Technology Dr., or take the 405 north from the 5 at the El Toro Y. For the best view, drive to the end of Rockfield Blvd., just off of Bake. It dead-ends right into the fields. Walk up the berm (without actually trespassing, of course), and see the flat, open expanse of green fields for yourself.
Then ask yourself, all other things being equal, wouldn’t this be a better site to honor veterans?
Of course, all things aren’t equal. We laid out the facts about the two sites in our May issue. Here’s what we said in this space about the choice to be made by the city council, and the debate about the issue:
“After hearing the debate and weighing the options, Irvine City News strongly believes there is only one course of action: Accept FivePoint’s offer and move the cemetery from the ARDA site to the highly visible alternate site next to the 5 Freeway.
“This option will save the taxpayers millions of dollars, speed construction and delivery of the cemetery’s first phase, and remove concerns nearby residents and school officials have about proximity to the ARDA site.”
One of the most important things to come out of Gov. Brown’s visit is the very clear message that Irvine will be home to a veterans cemetery, at one site or the other. So hopefully any innuendo about the alternate site being part of some grand plan to eliminate a veterans cemetery from the city can be put to rest.
When the original ARDA site was the only option, that was the choice all supported. If city council chooses the original site, we’ll support that choice and join all in honoring veterans there. There will be a veterans cemetery in Irvine. We still think the alternate site is the obvious and best choice for its location.
The May 9 hearing that concluded the debate over Concordia University was a model of conciliation and consensus building almost completely lacking in ad hominem attacks and innuendo.
It’s likely the veterans cemetery discussion will be less polite. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s all do our best at the June 27 city council meeting (when the cemetery decision is expected to be made) to treat those on all sides of the issue with respect, and in so doing bring some decorum and reverence to the issue that’s so important to veterans and citizens alike.
Editor's Note: Mayor Don Wagner and Councilmember Melissa Fox have called for a special meeting to vote on the cemetery location after learning that the state has allocated $10 million less than expected for the construction of the veterans cemetery in Irvine. The city council will vote on the site for the new cemetery on June 6 at 4 p.m.