By the Orange County Register Editorial Board
Earlier this month, when the Irvine City Council decided to split the proverbial baby and move forward on both sites for the proposed veterans cemetery, skeptics complained that developer FivePoint Communities hadn’t offered any specifics for its plan. We will have to wait no longer.
On Thursday, the developer sent a formal proposal for the potential land exchange to the city manager and the five council members. In it, Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO of FivePoint, lays out a vision that he believes will present the city with cost savings and expedite the construction of the cemetery.
The swap would see the cemetery moved to a similar-sized piece of land, currently being used for farming, which is owned by FivePoint and near the El Toro “Y.” Farmland would undoubtedly be easier to remediate than demolishing an abandoned airfield, currently estimated at $77.4 million for the first phase.
Plus, as we’ve previously noted, the current site is controversial because of its proximity to homes, especially to adherents of the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui — and people who just don’t like the idea of their property abutting a cemetery. This alternative site has the support of both residents and the veterans group formed to push for a cemetery.
The FivePoint proposal, spread across as much as 125 acres, fittingly straddles Marine Way and contains a host of proposed amenities for honoring our fallen men and women in uniform. The site would include a veterans memorial on the side facing the I-5 freeway. Plus, its proximity to the freeway allows ease of access for visitors and a solemn reminder of the price of freedom to those passing by.