Chronicling the start-and-stop history of Orange County’s Great Park, the Los Angeles Times’ Jim Newton tells the story of a idea that was grand in its conception but has been fraught with setbacks and delays.

The idea was to have a park that would dwarf New York’s Central park in size, and compete with Balboa and Golden Gate Parks in the west. However, after six years, the project remains mostly incomplete or never begun. Instead, local residents have been left facing unfulfilled promises.

Recently, it has come to light that one of the new officials looking to help bring the Great Park back on track would benefit from a double-dip (earning a pension and salary) worth $283k, but that’s only part of the financial questions that surround the project. With the housing market depressed, there will be less tax revenue to pay for the ambitious project, and with the future of redevelopment agencies in jeopardy, one of the major funding mechanisms for amenities on the project could be eliminated.

From the Los Angeles Times:

In Southern California, there’s nothing like a very large piece of real estate to cause discord. And the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station is nothing if not a large piece of real estate.

Ever since the military decided to unload the base in the 1990s, Orange County residents have been bickering over what to do with the land, and the decision in 2005 to turn it into the Great Park hasn’t ended the conflict.

But first the history. Even before the military moved out, county residents divided into two bitterly opposing camps: those who supported using the site for a commercial airport and those who envisioned it as a vast and impressive park. Larry Agran, the on-again, off-again mayor of Irvine, led the park proponents, while an array of others joined to lobby for an airport. Even Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn got in on the act, lobbying federal officials to let Los Angeles take over the site and run it as an airport.

Read the full article here.