Thursday, June 3, 2010

Orange County grand jury criticizes Great Park financing

An Orange County grand jury report released today questions a key source of Great Park financing and points to potential conflicts of interest among Irvine City Council members who oversee the ambitious, $1.6 billion project.

In a report entitled “Financing the Great Park: Now You See It, Now You Don’t,” the grand jury questions whether there will be enough funding to bankroll what will eventually become one of the largest municipal undertakings in the county’s history.

The report marks the second time within less than five years that the Great Park has come under grand jury scrutiny.

Among the findings:

- The terms of the park financing may make it difficult for the Irvine Redevelopment agency to pay back a $134 million loan, which represents a key source of Great Park funding. The report also found that the city could cancel the debt altogether before the Great Park is paid back.

- A potential conflict of interest arises from the fact that all five Irvine City Council members also serve on the Irvine Redevelopment Agency and the Great Park Board of Directors.

- Park leaders have backed away from promises that the Great Park can be built “without costing taxpayers a cent.”

We are awaiting a response from the city, and from Great Park leaders, and we’ll add that as soon as we get it. Check back here this afternoon for a link to the full story on the grand jury’s findings.

In the meantime, you can click here to see the full report.

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