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Agran's Plans to Transform El Toro Marine Air Station

June 06, 1993

Larry Agran ("Time Is Now to Create El Toro Plan," May 28) has ably articulated a most important agenda for Orange County's future--that of planning and building a "fixed guideway" (light or urban rail) system in the county, and planning for intelligent people-serving land use adjacent to the associated rail stations.

The proposed transit system is one that will provide a clean, efficient, comfortable and aesthetic alternative for mobility in the county, and eventually inter-county, for commuters, students, leisure travelers and others.

Unfortunately Agran has chosen to tie this most important concept to his foregone and misguided conclusion that El Toro Marine Corps Air Station must close. It should not. Its closure is not dictated by force cuts, economics or by toxic contamination as he would lead the reader to believe. His contention that if not today, El Toro should close as a result of future base cuts is without merit. There is no measure of national defense policy or defense requirements, or best use of defense budget, or of land use, that dictates that El Toro should cease to be a military base.

The old and common practice of dumping fuel, oil and toxic solvents onto the ground, common at every military base and many industrial sites through the 1960s, ended a number of years ago at El Toro. Virtually every large military base in the country has been placed on the National Priorities List to enable cleanup with monies appropriated by Congress to the Defense Department; not with federal Superfund money as he reports. His adjectives describing the contamination, toxicity and extent associated with El Toro are exaggerated to make his case. His implication that El Toro is the only source of this contamination has not been proven. Remember the Speedway?

Most certainly, the contaminated ground and ground water under and near El Toro needs to be cleaned up, and work is underway to begin that. And most certainly, this county needs the proposed urban rail system, and that is in planning and study. Neither of these important programs require the closure of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

DAVE SHUTER

Mission Viejo

One thing missing from former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran's excellent commentary in which he suggested turning the El Toro Marine base into a land transportation center was that it also could be planned to accommodate solar technology which would energize the system and could, perhaps, be used for other purposes as well.

Need I spell out the benefits? They are many. The question should be, when will alternative energy be implemented?

ANDY WING

Laguna Beach

Larry Agran's commentary has some of the most exciting economic insights I have read in a long time. His ideas for economic conversion by seeking bipartisan leadership is a step in the right direction to pulling Southern California out of its economic slump.

Maybe we should have listened more to this man in the last presidential campaign. Wonder where he gets his hair cut?

FRANK E. ROGERS

Irvine

The article by Larry Agran was quite interesting to me. It seems that his mostly radical views have tempered. Although he probably doesn't look to me for agreement, I do commend him on his basic premise, i.e., pre-planning for El Toro. It seems certain that sooner or later its closure as a military base will be fact and certainly intelligent and possibly gradual change is advisable.

There is one little flaw in his postulate for a center of transportation, however. He discounts its partial use as an air terminal. Certainly air travel and freight come under the heading of transportation, and any master center which does not include same is therefore not a master facility.

Aside from various differing views by separate communities, the only sensible plan must include air transport and what is best for Orange County. Dealing with the current Orange County airport and considering various crutches is like beating a dead horse. A new facility is mandatory.

ALAN L. BLUM

Balboa Island

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