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Dear Friends –

Fifteen years ago, the Foundation for the Great Park set out to advance the idea of an exceptional metropolitan park for Orange County. This audacious plan required the support of people like you – the Foundation’s donors, friends and supporters – if it were ever to become reality.

Along the way, we experienced successes and setbacks, trials and triumphs. But at every turn, we proudly carried the torch for the Orange County Great Park together.  As a result, the vision of a great metropolitan park for Orange County is very much alive and is indeed underway.

Due to the nation’s faltering economy, a new park development approach became necessary if the Orange County Great Park was to be built.  This plan was finalized last year between the City of Irvine and private developer, FivePoint Communities.

With the Park’s development underway, it would be several years before the Foundation’s programming and educational efforts could begin again.  Maintaining the required level of legal, practical and administrative operations during this period would not be fiscally prudent. The Board could not, in good faith, justify the ongoing costs.

Therefore, at its January 15, 2015 meeting, the Foundation for the Great Park Board of Directors voted unanimously to dissolve the organization.  This was a difficult decision but ultimately it is the right decision for the Orange County Great Park, the Foundation, its donors, supporters and friends.

The outpouring of support for the idea of the Orange County Great Park has been tremendous. We, as the Foundation Board, continue to hold great optimism that this vision will be delivered, as promised. As individuals, we will continue to advocate for specific elements, most notably, a robust Cultural Terrace, to be developed. We are also supportive and proud of the progress that has been made at the Park to date.

It has been an honor to serve the community in bringing forth the vision of the Orange County Great Park. On behalf of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, thank you for your unwavering support, friendship and ideas over the past 15 years.

James “Walkie” Ray
Foundation for the Great Park



Foundation for the Great Park to Wind Down Operations
Privately funded non-profit organization helped carry torch for a vision of a metropolitan park for Orange County

January 20, 2015 (Irvine, Calif.) -- The Foundation for the Great Park, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, announced today that it will soon end its operations.  The unanimous decision from the Foundation’s Board of Directors marks the completion of a 15-year effort to help establish a vision and build community support for a metropolitan park in Orange County.

“Today, we’ve concluded another chapter in the history of the Orange County Great Park,” said Foundation Chairman James “Walkie” Ray. “While the time is right for the Foundation’s current efforts to end, its vision of a metropolitan park for Orange County endures and is indeed underway. We are proud to have carried the torch for this vision during the past 15 years.”

The Foundation was established in 2000 as a privately funded, philanthropic organization to support the Orange County Great Park’s development. Its Board worked with the City of Irvine and Orange County Great Park Corporation (Corporation) – the organizations overseeing the park’s planning and development – to help ensure the Park would become a regional, statewide and national asset. It provided financial and community leadership for specific initiatives, including the development of a robust Cultural Terrace within the Park.

The private non-profit also afforded community members the opportunity to contribute to the Park’s vision, either financially or through grassroots support. Thousands of supporters and donors from across the county joined in the Foundation’s vision. It is overseen by a volunteer board of directors and managed by an executive director.

The Evolution of the Foundation
As the economy faltered and the state of California dissolved city redevelopment agencies (once a primary funding source for the Orange County Great Park), the City and Corporation reevaluated the Park’s development plan.

Last year, a deal was struck with a private developer – FivePoint Communities – to build out roughly half the Great Park’s 1,300 acres. FivePoint recently began implementing the first phases of this plan, which includes infrastructure, fields and recreational facilities. 

The Foundation’s Board determined that its efforts would not be necessary or efficient during the several-year construction process. It voted unanimously at its January 15, 2015 meeting to dissolve the organization.

“The broader focus right now is on building the bricks and mortar of the Park, and we’re enthusiastically supportive of this progress,” continued Ray. “It’s not practical or administratively efficient to continue our efforts during this years-long construction phase.”

A Focus on Culture and Community Benefit
Throughout its 15-year operation, the Foundation generated support for and funded a variety of Orange County Great Park initiatives, including:

  • U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
  • The Palm Court Arts Complex and other areas of the Park
  • Feasibility study for the Nature Education Garden
  • Dozens of community programs in arts, culture, farm, food and agriculture
  • The Museum of Heritage & Aviation
  • Countywide awareness and education

The Foundation successfully introduced the Orange County Great Park vision to more than 15,000 residents and worked to garner support for its development, especially its cultural elements.

Civic leaders applauded its efforts to advance the vision of a great, regional park for the County.

“The Foundation has served as a model of collaboration and cooperation,” said City of Irvine Councilwoman and Orange County Great Park Corporation Chair Christina Shea. “Its impact on the vision for the Orange County Great Park is lasting and important.”

Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom also acknowledged the Foundation’s contributions.

“The Foundation has been there since day one helping to ensure that the Orange County Great Park was always going to be a magnificent park. I’m grateful for its service to our City and County,” said Krom.

At its January 15 meeting, the Board expressed unanimous optimism that the Orange County Great Park will soon become the treasure for the region that was always envisioned. In fact, the Foundation believes that its model of public and community involvement to develop specific elements of the Park, including its Cultural Terrace, is the right model to fulfill the vision of the Orange County Great Park.

“It was thrilling to hear the idea of the Orange County Great Park 15 years ago and we continue to carry that excitement with us,” said Ray. “As we see the very significant construction and progress taking place today, we are incredibly optimistic that the vision of a truly great park for our County will soon become a reality.”

The Foundation will begin the dissolution process as soon as practicable. It is expected to take several weeks. An ad hoc committee of the Board has been established to oversee the process.

About the Foundation for the Great Park
The Foundation for the Great Park is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2000 with a vision to ensure the Orange County Great Park becomes a great metropolitan park for the region.

Its mission is to generate and sustain public and private support for the development of operation of the Park. It is a non-partisan, non-political organization governed by a volunteer board with support from throughout the County of Orange.


Click here to download a pdf of this press release.