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Logical Spot for Reagan Library

May 03, 1987

Once again Orange County is being considered as a site for a presidential library, this time near UC Irvine, this time for the papers of Ronald Reagan.

Four years ago the Nixon Archives Foundation selected San Clemente as the seaside location for the presidential library of Richard M. Nixon; plans call for it to be built on private property in conjunction with Chapman College of Orange.

The location of the proposed Reagan library and adjoining public policy research center, which would cost an estimated $80 million, is undecided; Orange County is but one of several Southern California locations being considered. But it would be a good location. And a logical one.

Orange County, perhaps more than any other spot in the nation, is considered "Reagan Country." The title is more than just a political aphorism. Reagan has always been well-liked in the county. A look at its election returns shows how much. He has consistently pulled more votes than the number of registered Republicans in the county, a sign that Reagan is popular with the county's Democratic voters, too.

Some opposition, however, can be expected, because the site under consideration, although not on the UCI campus, is adjacent to it. That, no doubt, will raise some protest. Some faculty and students opposed locating the Nixon Library on the UCI campus. And last month efforts to locate the Reagan library on the Stanford University campus were dropped by the Reagan Presidential Foundation after disputes with faculty members and nearby property owners. Universities, understandably, want to oversee and control libraries on their campuses.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has expressed an interest in Irvine Co. property adjoining the UCI campus. That would give the foundation, the university and the public the best of both worlds.

The university would have the library nearby, where scholars could study documents from a crucial period in history, but the university would not be tied directly to the library or the research center. The library could function in a supportive community academic setting without university restrictions or control.

Another advantage of an Orange County location would be the prospect of perhaps having both the Nixon and Reagan libraries in close proximity to each other. This would make it easier for the public to visit and learn about two presidents whose personal and professional lives have been so closely tied to California.

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