Irvine City Council members are set to discuss a resolution Tuesday backing a veterans center project in Anaheim Hills, which would represent an about face for a project long thought to be meant for the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.
Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim and Councilman Mike Carroll put the resolution on the agenda.
In July, Anaheim City Council members voted in support of the Gypsum Canyon site, and the Orange County Board of Supervisors has committed $20 million toward the project.
Another major source of support came last week when Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, announced her backing of the Gypsum Canyon project.
Nick Berardino, president of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County, told City News Service it was “wonderful” to get Porter’s backing “as well as other members of the congressional delegation” in Orange County, including Reps. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana and Michelle Steel, R-Huntington Beach.
Porter’s “leadership on this issue was extremely valuable because she got beyond the petty politics going on for 10 years and pushed the project forward,” Berardino said.
In a statement issued last week, Porter said, “We have a responsibility to do right by our service members and military families. The bare minimum we can do for our veterans, who have made tremendous sacrifices for our country, is to give them a final resting place here in our community. We ought to begin construction on a veterans cemetery as soon as possible, and the Gypsum Canyon site in Anaheim Hills is our most viable option. Let’s get this done.”
Said Berardino: “We are extraordinarily grateful for the 197 other bipartisan other elected officials who have come out in support.”
Getting Irvine’s support “would be such a positive way to end with the last city joining everybody else,” Berardino said. “And I think it will be healing for a city torn apart on this issue.”
Irvine Councilman Larry Agran has backed the so-called Amended and Restated Development site, also known as ARDA, near the Orange County Great Park on the north side at the end of a runway on the old base.
In December 2019, the Orange County Board of Supervisors agreed to convert 2,500 acres donated by The Irvine Co. into a cemetery — with half reserved for veterans — next to Gypsum Canyon Road near state Route 91 and the 271 toll road.
In March 2019, the board voted to reserve space in the planned Anaheim Hills cemetery not only for veterans, but also for their spouses and others who served in the military or governments of U.S. allied forces in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
On July 27, the Board of Supervisors approved spending $20 million to move forward with plans for the Gypsum Canyon project.