Concerning the former El Toro Marine Base, The Great Park and The Future of Golf in Orange County for generations to come

Ladies and Gentleman,

 As a long time fellow Orange County resident and golfer, I've prided myself on issues with-in the county regarding the future of our great sport. I contact you with the most urgent regard to something that is happening in terms of Lennar Homes and the City of Irvine who are trying to re-zone the land around the Great Park , thus eliminating golf from the Master Plan of The Great Park Neighborhoods project.  I appeal to you not just as a golfer, but as a concerned citizen, as the elimination of golf here would carry with it many aspects that would negatively affect our quality of life and the overall quality of The Great Park. 

The City of Irvine is currently looking at the possibility of changing their commitment to golf, as was required in their original development agreement with Lennar for The Great Park Neighborhoods, by not just eliminating one of the proposed 45-holes of golf, but ALL of them!  Thatís right, the elimination of all planned 45-holes, including the much beloved, historic and former El Toro golf course which has been laying fallow for too long!  This means that the El Toro Golf Association, and most notably the retired military, our citizens and neighbors, who ridiculously lost their wonderful and challenging 18-hole course, originally designed in 1944 by famed golf architect William Park Bell, the co-designer and builder of the world-renowned Riviera CC, The Los Angeles CC and Bel Air CC would be gone forever; as well as the other proposed new courses that would further promote the sport and all of itís other significant positive attributes in our great county.  This is something we should not stand for!

 Further, this current series of events is not posted on the Great Park Neighborhood, Great Park, Great Park Conservancy Group, City or County websites ! Any information regarding this "change of direction" to the promise and ideals of what the redevelopment of the El Toro Marine Base was all about is just not there, which is hard to believe because this is what the registered voters of Orange County voted on! The city has conveniently left it off of the agenda till the last minute, which happens to be this Friday, where they are anticipated to post the proposed changes and agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting next Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 4:00pm.  Less then two working days notice! If we are to stop this current action which would be so detrimental to our great City planning, we must also contact the Mayor and other City Council members and voice our displeasure. Lennar and the City Council should not be allowed to renege on their prior commitment to the vision of the Great Park, the Great Park Neighborhoods and its surrounding areas which is nothing less then 45-holes of Golf as promised in the original development agreement, consistent with what was voted upon in Measure W.

The benefits beyond that to just golfers are numerous:  Better quality of life for those that live in or around the Great Park Neighborhoods, especially for our youth who will have a viable place to not only learn how to play golf, but also to take part in progressive Life Learning programs such as the "The Get A Grip Foundation," -   where golf is the reward for success in academic studies and tutoring (thus, through golf, building better citizens for the future.)   This successful not-for profit program is not only funded, but run by Orange County residents. Ironically, because there is no affordable facility in Orange County, The Get A Grip Foundation bases itself in Norco. Other examples such as the Tiger Woods Learning Center, and the First Tee program are models as well for what could be assimilated into the planned golf here, providing character development programs for youth.

 Golf is a great tool for charitable contributions as well.  In 2008 in California alone, the total amount of charitable giving attributed to golf was $323 Million!  

The golf, as originally planned in viewing various maps on-line, was designed to buffer the Great Park ís Wildlife Corridor.  No other land use could provide nearly the space and dimensions as a golf course to provide such a broad open space buffer to this valuable environmental feature of The Great Park.  With 45 holes of golf, we are talking approximately 400 acres of open space here, potentially lost!  This would be a travesty to further lose the openness of our Cityís land to this extent.

While in these tough economic times, it is understandable that Lennar may not be able of providing to the agreed terms at this time.  But it is a wise time to build and provide the public with a revenue-generating vehicle that could electrify further growth in following the Great Park 's Master Plan. The city has much to gain with a revenue-generating golf course from jobs to build it; to the people that will see to its day-to-day operation, all while servicing the needs of county residents who want and desire affordable golf and the recreation and open space attributes that it promotes. Isn't this consistent with the entire mantra of what the Great Park and its surrounding areas were supposed to be all about anyway?  Certainly removing golf from the Master Plan, and replacing it with more and more housing or other built uses is not! 

The email addresses of the pertinent council members, controller and mayor are as follows:

Mayor Sukhee Kang can be contacted at: sukheekang@ci.irvine.ca.us

Council Members
Beth Krom: bethkrom@ci.irvine.ca.us
Dr. Steven Choi: stevenchoi@ci.irvine.ca.us
Christina Shea: christinashea@ci.irvine.ca.us
Mayor Pro Tem: Larry Agran: larryagran@ci.irvine.ca.us

Also, the purveyors of the Great Park can be reached at:

contact@ocgp.org

There is much to gain from the building of these courses, mostly--and I say this with all due regard to Irvine's great history--quality of life. The City of Irvine has changed dramatically because of bad decision making when it comes to development of its most precious resource--its land. It has over-taxed the infrastructure of its resource. Even more, our quality of life. Golf is not only a vital activity, but promotes good lifestyles and offers balance that cannot be bought or sold. It builds character and produces better ethics that makes us better citizens; better people while aiding and benefiting our youth with activity and sport.

We cannot let bad business dealings and broken promises for a better life occur and affect the overall health of our communities. We cannot let these harsh economic times be made as an excuse for a quick fix. The future of Orange County as a whole depends on it.

Sincerely,
Thomas M. Naccarato
Golfer and lifetime Southern California/Orange County Resident

tommynacc "at" sbcglobal.net
(714) 803-3563

 Please feel free to call or email so that we can work together.