Irvine Should Move Forward with a Memorandum of Understanding for Pretend City Children’s Museum at the Great Park

Irvine Should Move Forward with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Pretend City Children’s Museum at the Cultural Terrace of the Great Park.

I am disappointed that at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, only Councilmember Christina Shea joined with me in agreeing to an MOU with our great Irvine-based Pretend City Children’s Museum regarding a lease of property at the Cultural Terrace of the Great Park.  Mayor Don Wagner and Councilmember Lynn Schott voted against.  Councilmember Jeff Lalloway was absent.

Because of the City Council’s decision, Pretend City Children’s Museum is in danger of losing a seed money grant from the County for $5 million that depends on the MOU.

Pretend City Children’s Museum, which opened in Irvine in 2009, is an interactive children’s museum that builds better brains through whole body learning experiences, educational programs, and creative exhibits.  Designed as a small city, with a grocery store, construction site, art studio, house, café, bank, emergency services, health center and farm, Pretend City will be a familiar environment in which children infant through eight-years-old will have joyful opportunities to build problem solving and critical thinking skills, develop creativity and begin a life-long love of learning. It is dedicated to ensuring that each child is ready for school success by providing the ideal real-world learning experiences needed by children to develop their essential foundational learning skills.  This month, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced that Pretend City is a finalist for the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Susan Bolton, the Executive Director of the Pretend Museum, has explained that the museum “seeks to move to the Great Park to expand its mission in serving the county’s children in providing early childhood education, developmental screenings, hands on play environment for children of ALL abilities and school readiness.”

The arguments against the MOU were that it would give Pretend City Children’s Museum an advantage over other possible occupants of the Cultural Terrace, and that the Cultural Terrace project should not be approved piecemeal. However, we already know the value and quality of Pretend City, which has operated in the city for many years, and the MOU would not commit the city to any final decision regarding the Cultural Terrace.

Moreover, we should be not be pitting the fine organizations that are seeking space in the Cultural Terrace against each other.  As Don Croucher – the leading advocate for a California Fire Museum at the Great Park – has pointed out, he and other supporters of the Fire Museum “are very much in favor of Pretend City getting their MOU so they do not lose the grant that is offered to them. We understand the need for them to move forward. It is NOT putting them ahead of any others at the Cultural Terrace, but rather a hand up to get the $5 million grant. We, in no way, want to hinder this important step for Pretend City.  We will support them in every step of the way to make sure they get this MOU ASAP.”

Irvine is a great city for families with young children, but we can and should make it even better.  We need more childcare and more pre-school programs for children under six-years-old, and I and my Commissioners are working to make this happen. We should also do everything we can to support the terrific work being done by the Pretend Museum for young children right here in Irvine.

As Councilmember Christina Shea has said, “If Pretend City loses their grant and we in turn lose a fantastic partner that supports our children and families, the community will lose and this isn’t what Irvine is about.”

I hope that we can move forward with the MOU soon and that the grant is not lost.

I recommend that those who are interested in this issue contact other members of the Irvine City Council.

Join Me Saturday at the Grand Opening of the Orange County Great Park Sports Park!

Join me for a free Grand Opening and fun-filled day from 2-9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, as the first phase of the Orange County Great Park’s Sports Park is unveiled.
No RSVP is needed. Click  here for the map for directions into the Great Park.
All fields will be activated at 2 p.m., then join the Mayor and City Council for an official ribbon-cutting at 3:30 p.m. inside the Soccer Stadium at the Great Park, followed by the first soccer match in the new stadium.
There will be exhibitions, and opportunities, on the six soccer fields, 25 tennis courts, and five sand volleyball courts that will be open on that day.
Bring the family to enjoy the new Children’s Play Area. Food trucks will available for guests to purchase food from 2-8 p.m.
A  special free family concert featuring The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi will begin inside the Soccer Stadium at 7:15 p.m.
Wear comfortable shoes to experience the first 53 acres of what will become the 194-acre Sports Park!
Here’s the schedule of events for the Sports Park Grand Opening on Aug. 5:

2:00-5:30 pm: Exhibitions, clinics, competition at tennis courts, soccer fields, & volleyball courts.

2:00-8:00 pm: Food/dessert trucks available on-site.

3:30 pm: Opening ceremonies – FivePoint/City of Irvine – at the Soccer Stadium.

4:00-5:30 pm: O.C. all-star soccer shoot out at the Soccer Stadium.

7:00-9:00 pm: Free community concert featuring The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd & Jim Belushi at the Soccer Stadium.

See you there!

Irvine City Council Approves Agreement with Wild Rivers for New 30-Acre Water Park at Great Park!

Irvine, CA — In April, the Irvine City Council, acting as the Great Park Board of Directors, adopted the motion of Great Park Vice Chair and Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox to approve construction of a new Wild Rivers Water Park on 30 acres at the Great Park in Irvine.
The old Wild Rivers Water Park closed in 2011 after 25 years in Irvine.

“I’m delighted to have made the motion on the City Council to bring Wild Rivers back to Irvine,” Councilmember Fox said.

“We have missed having a water park in Irvine,” Fox added.

Now the Great Park Board and the Irvine City Council have approved an agreement with the owners of Wild Rivers to to begin site planning and drafting the lease for the new 30-acre water park at the Orange County Great Park.

Wild Rivers CEO Mike Riedel first approached city officials about moving to the Great Park the year Wild Rivers closed. Last year, rather than granting Wild Rivers a no-bid contract, the council first decided to seek more proposals.  In April, the City Council approved a motion by Councilmember Melissa Fox to go forward with the Wild Rivers proposal.

“Wild Rivers has been an icon in the city of Irvine,” Councilmember Melissa Fox explained. “I was a kid sliding down the water slides at the old Wild Rivers, and I was a young mom taking my son there on hot summer days. We know that Wild Rivers provides fun and safe water parks, and they’ve always had a great relationship with the residents and the City of Irvine. We look forward to having them back in Irvine very soon.”

Wild Rivers will build a new water park with waterslides, an uphill water coaster, water play structures for children, a wave pool, a lazy river and Wild Rivers’ popular Congo River Rapids.

Councilmember Fox has also been working with Wild Rivers management to create an “all access” area, so that children and adults with disabilities can also enjoy a day at the water park.

Here is great video report from ABC News: Beloved SoCal Water Park Set to Make a Splash with its Reopening in 2019.

Here is a preliminary rendering of what the new Wild Rivers water park will look like:

Great Park Board Adopts Melissa Fox’s Motion to Approve New Wild Rivers Water Park in Irvine

On April 25, the Irvine City Council, acting as the Great Park Board of Directors, adopted the motion of Great Park Vice Chair and Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox to approve construction of a new Wild Rivers Water Park on 30 acres at the Great Park in Irvine.
The old Wild Rivers Water Park closed in 2011 after 25 years in Irvine.

“We have missed having a water park in Irvine,” Councilmember Fox said.

“Wild Rivers has been an icon in the city of Irvine,” Fox added. “I was a kid sliding down the water slides at the old Wild Rivers, and I was a young mom taking my son there on hot summer days. We know that Wild Rivers provides fun and safe water parks, and they’ve always had a great relationship with the residents and the City of Irvine. We look forward to having them back in Irvine very soon.”
The city plans to lease its Great Park land to Wild Rivers, which would build and run the water park. Wild Rivers is proposing a 30-acre water park with waterslides, an uphill water coaster, water play structures for children, a wave pool, a lazy river and Wild Rivers’ popular Congo River Rapids.

Irvine’s Farmers’ Markets Keep Growing: Two New Markets Join Old Favorites — with Update on Fast Food and Fast Growth at University Town Center

Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox blog, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council

I love farmers’ markets.

I love buying fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, and bread for my family.  I love talking to the vendors, especially those from nearby farms.  I love talking to other shoppers about recipes, about what’s in season, what’s really organic, what’s local, and what’s going on in our community.

Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox blog, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council Orange County Farm Bureau certified farmers’ markets are guaranteed to be the real thing – places where genuine farmers sell fruits, nuts and vegetables directly to the public.  Every farmer who sells at a certified market is inspected by the county agricultural commissioner to make sure he/she actually grows the produce being sold.

The California Federation of Certified Farmers’ Markets has some great tips for farmers’ market shoppers (like “When you first arrive, walk through the entire market and look at all the offerings before you buy. There are many differences in prices for the same produce type and quality” and “If the farmer is not too busy, do not hesitate to ask questions about recipes or growing methods. You might even get to know each other’s names.”) Check out these shopping tips here.

We are fortunate in Irvine to have had several excellent certified farmers’ markets for many years – and now we have two more!

Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox blog, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council The two farmers markets in Irvine that have been around for quite a while are:

Certified Farmers’ Market at University Town Center at the corner of Bridge and Campus, Irvine 92612 (across from UCI).

Day and Time: Saturdays, 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon (rain or shine).

Orange County Farm Bureau Certified: Yes.

Contact: Manager: Trish Harrison. Tel: 714-573-0374. Email: ocfb@sbcglobal.net.

Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox blog, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council

Shoppers at the Great Park Farmers’ Market, open Sundays 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

We used to shop at the farmers’ market at University Town Center all the time when my husband was studying for his Ph.D. at UC Irvine.

Certified Farmers’ Market at the Great Park, Irvine 92618 (Marine Way off Sand Canyon).

[Note: Access to the Great Park via Marine Way is now closed off until at least July 27, 2014, and visitors need to use an alternative route, entering via Trabuco Road at Sand Canyon Avenue].

Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox blog, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council Day and Time: Sundays, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM (rain or shine).

Orange County Farm Bureau Certified: Yes.

Contact: Manager Mary Senske. Tel: 949-724-7403. Email: ocgpfm@verizon.net.

The Great Park Farmers’ Market is now our family’s main farmers’ market.  We love being able to bring our Siberian Husky, Scout, eat a lunch we’ve bought from the vendors or one of many food trucks, and listen to live music.

Melissa Fox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, melissafoxblog.com, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox blog, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council The two new farmers’ markets in Irvine (which we have not yet personally visited) are:

Irvine Crossroads Certified Farmers’ Market at 3750 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine 92606 (between Culver and Harvard).

Day and Time: Sundays, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM (rain or shine).

Orange County Farm Bureau Certified: Yes.

Contact: Managers Melissa Farwell and Katie Rogers. Tel: 818-591-8161. Email: info@rawinspiration.org.

Update: I have now visited the Irvine Crossroads Farmers’ Market.  Although it is not large, the produce is fresh and the vendors are friendly.  Recommended!

Irvine Square Certified Farmers’ Market at 17901 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine 92614 (MacArthur and Main).

Day and Time: Sundays, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM (rain or shine).

Orange County Farm Bureau Certified: Yes.

Contact: Managers Melissa Farwell and Katie Rogers. Tel: 818-591-8161. Email: info@rawinspiration.org.

According to the Irvine Company, at the new farmers’ markets you will be able to “Shop a variety of offerings from local purveyors including: locally grown fruits and vegetables; freshly baked artisanal breads and pastries; olive oil, hummus, tapenades, and garlic spreads; fresh fish, free-range/grass-fed beef, and grilled sausages; dried fruits and nuts; fresh cut flowers; and more.”

Sounds great!

If you see me at one of our Irvine farmers’ markets, please say hello!

Photos of the Great Park Farmers’ Market by (c) Geoff Fox.