Sharon Quirk-Silva, the former Assembly Rep from AD-65 who pushed legislation forward for the Great Park Veterans Cemetery and Memorial, teased this news at her AD-65 fundraiser on Friday night in Santa Ana and the OC Register has the story. The Great Park Veterans Cemetery and Memorial is moving forward faster than previous thought and it’s thanks to Veteran Bill Cook who is leading an effort to get the cemetery built.
From the Register’s story:
In January, representatives from CalVet and the Department of General Services kicked off the process with a visit to the site identified by Irvine officials. Recently, on Oct. 21, another such visit took place, Cook said.
A spokesman for CalVet this week confirmed the department’s plans to submit a request for federal Cemetery Grants Program funds to design, develop, construct and equip the cemetery by July 2016.
It is unclear how much construction would cost. Were the cemetery built, operation and maintence would be the state’s responsibility.
Cook said “some private contributions will be needed – particularly in the preparation of the site.”
The cemetery would be constructed in 10 phases over 100 years with space for 200,000 burials, Cook said. The first phase, to encompass 17 acres, would include space for the cremated remains of 5,000 people, he said. Of those, 65 percent would be entombed in above-ground niches; 35 percent would be buried.
Now there’s an effort underway from neighbors near the Cemetery site, many of whom are Chinese nationals who purchased homes in Irvine from Five Point, to force the city to move the cemetery to a different location. That movement is the unwritten centerpiece for Mayoral candidate Gang Chen. In his campaign missives, Chen doesn’t reference the cemetery but he is working on registering voters in the neighborhood. Sources tell us some of the Chinese nationals who bought homes don’t seem to understand citizenship requirements to vote and that simply buying a home grants them voting rights.
From the Register: “Local architect Gang Chen, who recently announced he will run for mayor in 2016, heads a group that wants the cemetery built elsewhere because the Irvine site is close to homes and a future high school. Living near cemeteries is a taboo for immigrants from some Asian countries, such as China and India.
“It is your job to protect our interests,” Chen told members of the Irvine City Council earlier this year. “We need you to work with us to relocate the cemetery.”
As we head into the city council elections for 2016, look for the changing stories of support for the Great Park Veteran’s Cemetery and Memorial from council member Christina Shea (video doesn’t lie) and Commissioner Anthony Kuo, who’s backtracking from Chinese-media reports about stopping the cemetery in the planning process. Kuo told the LiberalOC last month he is “on the side of Patriots” but there’s nothing in his record that suggests previous support for the project.
For neighbors near the Cemetery site, it’s pretty amazing what can be done with landscaping and trees to hide the view of tombstones from the view of homes. For the Veterans who last touched American soil in Irvine at El Toro, news of the forward movement on the Cemetery and Memorial simply honors their service.