By Kimberly Pierceall
IRVINE – Led by outside consultants and a powerful political figure, Irvine’s Great Park project squandered millions on a plan without a budget nor a basis in reality, according to testimony by current and former park executives.
In depositions released this week from Irvine’s ongoing audit of the park, four former full-time executives said consultants protected by councilman and Great Park Chairman Larry Agran routinely overcharged for work that didn’t need to be done or had to be done over.
The testimony came from former Great Park chief executives Mike Ellzey and Walter Kreutzen as well as former chief financial officer Colleen Clark and former manager Marsha Burgess. Ellzey is now an assistant city manager in Irvine. Kreutzen, Clark and Burgess are no longer connected to the Great Park.
Agran and at least one of the consultants named in the depositions denied the accusations. Agran s
aid the claim he or the consultants inspired fear was “silly,” and added that the work process described by the former executives reflect the back and forth that can happen in any business or government project.
Since 2006, more than $200 million has been spent to develop less than one sixth of the Great Park’s 1,200-acre plan.
The depositions are part of an audit approved last year by the city council. Agran has been in the voting minority on the Irvine council since November 2012, and questions about his handling of the Great Park have been a political topic in the city for several years.
To date, the audit has cost more than $1 million. A final version of the report is expected next month.