LAGUNA HILLS : Meetings to Focus on Air Base Conversion

The city, preparing for the future closure of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, will hold a series of work sessions and public forums for the community.

Tonight, the City Council will schedule a meeting to discuss how the base will be reused once the military pulls out.

The session is likely to be scheduled within the next two weeks and probably be the first of many public forums over the next several years as the base's future uses are determined.

"Redevelopment of that 4,700 acres (at the base) could definitely impact that quality of life of all of South County, Laguna Hills included," said Councilwoman Melody Carruth, who sits on a 51-member advisory board for the El Toro joint powers authority. "We need to get as much information to the public as we can."

Laguna Hills meets regularly with a group of South County cities and community groups that are closely watching the El Toro air base conversion process.

The city has contributed $5,000 to help the local governments hire a Washington-based lobbyist who will stay in contact with federal agencies seeking to control the base reuse project.

Carruth said the city is also considering putting aside up to $100,000 to help the South County communities finance a study of base reuse.

"I would like to see our city be prepared if we decide that a consultant is needed to analyze the project," Carruth said.

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