Krom Responds to LA Times article on Great Park

Ballon Ride at The Great Park Irvine

Irvine council member Beth Krom sent us this op-ed posted in response to an LA Times story about the Great Park.  We’re posting it here with links to the original story.  Regardless of your opinion of the Park and it’s progress, if you were an Irvine homeowner 10 years ago, your home’s values are higher today than they were then because this isn’t an airport going up miles from your backyard.

 

Below is the online response (they would not print the rebuttal in the paper despite our request that they do so), posted 10/30/12, to the story that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on October 27, 2012:

 

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-irvine-great-park-blowback-20121030,0,882914.story

 

Beth

 

Blowback

Orange County’s Great Park: Still great, still a work in progress

By Beth Krom

October 30, 2012, 3:44 p.m.

In its Oct. 27 article, “Orange County’s planned Great Park a victim of hard times,” The Times paints a misleading picture by neglecting to provide adequate history and context. The truth is the Great Park in Irvine is not just moving forward. We are heading into our best year yet.

Consider that the next year will see the addition of four tournament-quality soccer fields, a new visitors center, community gardens and our first water features. This will build upon the existing 200 acres of space regularly programmed with free public activities.

With a 2013 schedule featuring the unveiling of a 30-acre expansion, the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and the Great Park XPO — a world’s fair of clean, renewable and efficient energy — as well as the return of Cirque du Soleil, we expect to surpass 1 million visitors for the first time.

This will add to the 1.5 million people from all over Orange County and beyond who have enjoyed the Great Park since it opened in 2007, including more than 600,000 in 2011 alone. It’s exciting to witness this momentum because, as The Times points out, we have faced severe challenges.

When the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was sold in 2005 by the federal government to private developers for $649 million, the expectation was that revenues generated by the private development would fuel the park’s construction. Until the housing market started to slow in 2006, we all embraced the notion of a park that would be built “bigger, better and faster.” When the economy shifted, we had to adapt.

We could have fenced off the 1,300 acres dedicated for the park and sat on the $200 million in developer fees we received when the base was sold, or decided to stick the master plan on a shelf and pack our aspirations away in mothballs. Some people prefer to focus on obstacles. We would rather leverage our opportunities.

If we had a crystal ball, we might have anticipated the worldwide economic downturn that devastated our local real estate market, or predicted Sacramento’s unprecedented grab of redevelopment agency funds last year.

When the Great Park Corp.’s board of directors invested in the development of a comprehensive master plan, we were investing in a vision. This is the first time a military base has been redeveloped into a park. Everything we have built is consistent with that vision. Where we have adapted, we have done so not to diverge from the plan but to address infrastructure limitations created by the stalled private development.

It should also be noted that, based on current agreements with the city of Irvine, the private developer is obligated to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in joint backbone infrastructure and runway demolition that will support development of the park, plus residential and nonresidential development of the former base.

Embedded in every facet of construction has been our commitment to preserve the heritage of the land. We have restored historic Hangar 244, re-purposed former squadron buildings into the Palm Court Arts Complex and returned active agriculture to what was once James Irvine’s most productive lima bean field.

As for the economics, let me set the record straight. While more than $100 million has been spent on design and construction, building the Great Park requires the demolition of a former military base, which impacts design and construction costs. As for those oft-cited “no-bid contracts,” all contracts are either approved as sole source or competitively bid in accordance with the same procurement requirements as the city of Irvine. We do not get to play by a different set of rules.

The reality is we are playing by the rules and overcoming significant challenges. That’s why it is disappointing to see The Times cast this public initiative in such a negative light. It would be easier to throw up our hands and call it a day, but we are committed to realizing the vision for a Great Park for the people of Orange County. The question should not be why haven’t we accomplished more but rather how have we accomplished so much.

 

  3 comments for “Krom Responds to LA Times article on Great Park

  1. Ltpar
    November 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Beth Krom, rationalization of your corruption and mismanagement at the Great Park will not change the fact that you have been part of the group who blew 230 million dollars of taxpayers money. Despite a couple of soccer fields, the runways still haven’t been removed and the infastructure including utilities to support anything other than temporary are still not in. You greatest achievement has been lining the pockets of your political supporters, including Forde & Mollrich. Unfortunately, the current conservative campaign has chosen not to unmask you to the voters as just another clone of Larry Agran. As such, the Irvine voters will likely return you to the Council for another term. The only good news is that you might well find yourself in the minority this time around with the Agranista power gone. The wheel of Karma always rolls around Beth, and is long overdue to catch up to you and Larry.

    • November 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Gosh Pat, its your side that sugests anyone not on your slate is an Agran Plant; Daigle smacked you down and now your side is putting out word Chemers is an Agran plant. No credibility.

      • Ltpar
        November 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

        Dan, Daigle didn’t smack anyone down and she was unmasked as the lier and fraud she is. Your buddy Patrick Strader shilling for Larry Agran could have found a better “stealth candidate” than Daigle to run. With her, you guys were scraping the bottom onf the barrel.

        Naw Dan, Chemers is not an Agran plant. He is just another smooth talking, snake oil salesman posing as a conservative and trying to run a con on the voters. Look at his background of financial problems, anger management issues with the Cops responding to Chemers threatening his 70 year old neighbor and you start to see past his jive talk, Add to that his previous Quail Hill neighbors being so incensed by his relationship with them, they pooled their money and sent out their own hit mailer on him. Selling snake oil isn’t working for Obama these days and neither did it work for Chemers. He never stood a chance of being elected, but any votes he gets draws away conservative votes which could have gone to Christina Shea or Lynn Schott. That without question helps the Agrainstas.

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