Orange County Great Park tries again for greatness

The troubled not-so-great Great Park in Irvine will be hosting the DOE Solar Decathlon 2013 this October. As exciting as that sounds, it is doubtful that the event will in any way help turn the park into the grand urban park that has been envisioned, debated, funded and defunded for years.

Balloon ride over Orange County Great Park

Balloon ride over the Great Park? $10. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Only a tiny section of the park is open and publicly available. Previously free attractions from the carousel to a balloon ride now are pay to use. Yes, the park’s only merry-go-round costs $2 a ride! That is just sad. A decade ago, OC voters approved the repurposing of the former Marine air base into the Orange County Great Park — beating out those who wanted to see an airport there.

The Solar Decathlon is actually a great event. Promoted by the Department of Energy, the competition fields teams of college students who build environmentally friendly houses. The 2012 decathlon was in Washington D.C. It promises to bring plenty of paying visitors, benefitting not only the park but local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses serving tourists.

But will it be worth the cost? See the L.A. Times for the discussion.

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