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.
With its approximate 1,300-acre master plan, the Orange County 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.
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.
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.
To learn more about the Orange County Great Park, click here: www.ocgp.org