In a city scarred by battles over the preservation of open space, City Council members balked this week at an opportunity to purchase 21 acres of open-space land due to uncertainty over maintenance costs.
With the 1988 passage of the California Wildlife, Coastal and Park Land Conservation Act, Irvine was awarded a $4-million state grant to purchase undeveloped land that would be preserved as open space.
The land stretches from Jeffrey Road to Sand Canyon Avenue, north of Barranca Parkway. The Irvine Co. owns 18 acres, and Southern California Edison Co. owns the remaining three acres. The value of the property has not been determined.
But Irvine Mayor Michael Ward raised objections to an estimated annual maintenance cost of $105,000 to $126,000.
"This looked pretty good. It looked like a no-brainer until I got down to the last paragraph, where it talks about financial impact," Ward said. "Where are we going to get the $126,000?"
City planner Brent Cooper told council members that the estimated maintenance costs had been revised down to a range of $6,300 to $37,800 a year.
City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr. said it was always assumed that the city would bear the cost of maintaining open-space land.
"Nothing is free," he said.
The council delayed a decision until Nov. 28.