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Great Park: Irvine wants to know how $200 million was spent

November 15, 2012 |  6:54 pm

Great parlk
Irvine city leaders are planning a detailed review of the $200 million spent on what has been billed as the country’s next great urban park, one that is supposed to rival New York’s Central Park with a majestic man-made canyon, rivers, forests and botanical gardens.

Despite the spending, only a sliver of the park has been built, and most of the Marine base land remains fenced off. Park funds are expected to be exhausted next year.

With a new majority taking over the council next month, city leaders indicated they want to take a closer look at the decade-long effort to build the municipal park.

GREAT PARK ANALYSIS: Where the money went

 “The three of us have been severe critics of the profiligate spending at the park and because of that we want to know where every dime has gone and what we’ve received for it,” said Jeff Lalloway, an incumbent council member. “I think that’s a fair question.”

Lalloway and his allies have been especially critical of the amount of money spent on planning, public relations and events at the Orange County Great Park rather than construction.

“I want to build the park,” Lalloway said. “I’m not certain that the current council majority has ever been  interested in doing that.”

A Times analysis last month showed that less than a fifth of the money spent on the park was used for actual construction. Only about 200 of the promised 1,347 acres have been developed, and half of that has been leased for commercial farming. The runways of the former Marine base have yet to be pulled up, and some of the barracks remains.

The Times also found that nearly half the money contractors were paid was awarded without competitive bids and that a public relations firm was paid a $1.2-million annual retainer.

“My No. 1 suggestion is that the council authorize a forensic audit in the next year and look at where the dollars have gone,” said Christina Shea, an incoming council member who previously served on the panel.


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-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: Great Park. Credit: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times.