Washington, D.C. – The Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California has been named a “Frontline Park” by the national urban park advocacy organization City Parks Alliance.
Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.
“We selected the Orange County Great Park for recognition because it exemplifies the power of partnerships to create and maintain urban parks that build community and make our cities sustainable and vibrant,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance. “We hope that by shining the spotlight on this park that we can raise awareness about both the necessity and the promise of these kinds of partnerships to spur investment in our nation’s urban parks.”
With its approximate 1,300-acre master plan, the Great Park is the centerpiece of the redevelopment of the publicly-owned portion of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. After the military base was decommissioned in 1999, several proposals to redevelop the land were put forward, including an international airport and a new housing development. In 2002, Orange County voters approved the Great Park project.
The goal of the Great Park is to bring a world-class metropolitan park to Orange County, with a wide range of cultural, social, recreational and educational amenities. Currently, more than 230 acres of the Great Park are activated or under construction.
Features and Programming Set the Great Park Apart
Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Southern California enjoy the Great Park’s array of recreational and educational opportunities and participate in shared experiences, including panoramic views from the iconic Great Park Balloon that rises 400 feet in the air. Other popular Great Park features include the Great Park Carousel, Farm + Food Lab, Kids Rock Playground, Walkable Historical Timeline, Palm Court Arts Complex, North Lawn recreation area, 105-acre Great Park Farm and historic Hangar 244.
The Great Park delivers innovative programming that activates all of these features, including free sports clinics, gardening workshops, a weekly Farmers Market, art exhibitions in the Great Park Gallery and an Artists-in-Residence program, as well as other community events. Total attendance and ridership for 2012 will exceed 750,000.
Hosting the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO
The Great Park’s success with events and programming helped it earn the opportunity to host the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013. This award-winning competition challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. Hundreds of thousands are expected to gather for the event October 3-13, 2013 at the Great Park, the first time the event has ever been held outside of Washington D.C. The Solar Decathlon 2013 will be the centerpiece of the XPO, a world’s fair of clean, renewable and efficient energy that the Great Park team is developing as a complement to Solar Decathlon 2013.
Innovative Educational Programs
In 2010, the Great Park piloted Reporting Live from the Great Park, a free educational field trip program for first graders. Building on success, the Great Park expanded the capacity from 400 students to more than 2,000 in 2012. Reporting Live is a one-of-a-kind STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math)-focused program that uses disguised learning to build knowledge of scientific investigation, physical science, geography, earth science, technology, language and visual arts, designed by teachers to respond to the specific educational needs of first graders.
Great Park program directors work with participating teachers to build a curriculum that supplements what students are currently learning in the classroom. Students ride the Great Park Balloon, tour the Farm + Food Lab, conduct fieldwork and experiments, and then articulate what they learn by recording a news report at the OCGP-TV Studio. Garden instruction is provided by the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners.
“It is an honor to receive recognition from City Parks Alliance for the Great Park,” said Michael Ellzey, Chief Executive Officer of Orange County Great Park Corporation. “We believe the unique public-private partnership to create the park – and our partnerships to create innovative programming in the park – will result in the creation of America’s next great metropolitan park for the benefit and enjoyment of all its visitors – today and tomorrow.”
Orange County Great Park is being featured on CPA’s website, www.cityparksalliance.org during the month of December. The “Frontline Parks” program is made possible with generous support from DuMor, Inc. (www.dumor.com) and PlayCore (www.playcore.com).
About City Parks Alliance
City Parks Alliance is the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks. It unites and serves a growing network of hundreds of civic and community leaders, government agencies, park and recreation authorities, funders and others working to create healthy and sustainable parks and green spaces. CPA’s vision is that everyone in urban America will live within walking distance of a park that is clean, safe and vibrant. www.cityparksalliance.org
About Orange County Great Park Corporation
Orange County Great Park Corporation is a non-profit organization charged with the design, construction, and maintenance of the Orange County Great Park. The Great Park, created from the former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro, is located in the geographic center of Orange County, California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Great Park is easily accessible to more than 10,000,000 Southern California residents via freeway or railway. Spanning more than 1,300 acres the Great Park’s award-winning Master Plan embraces environmental sustainability, preserves Orange County’s agricultural heritage, and honors the military history of MCAS El Toro, setting a new standard for sustainable park design and urban planning. Upon completion, the Orange County Great Park will join America’s inventory of national treasures and set a new standard for great metropolitan parks around the world. www.ocgp.org