Building a solid future

Following remarks from Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill, two City Council members and two representatives from Girl Scouts of Orange County, 11-year-old Olivia Bobrownicki approached the podium Tuesday.

Dressed in her uniform, the Irvine Girl Scout climbed onto a green stool to speak directly and confidently into the microphone.

Olivia outlined all that she had learned so far as a Scout, a list that included skills in marketing, goal setting and leadership.

"And I learned that a girl can do anything," she said to the assembled crowd of more than 150 people.

Her assertion echoed the goals for a new Girl Scout Leadership Center being celebrated that afternoon as part of a groundbreaking ceremony for Marina Park.

Attendees stood on part of the roughly 10.5-acre Balboa Peninsula site, which faces the harbor and had been cleared of the nearly 60 mobile homes that had been there before.

If all goes according to plan, the landscape will become the site of a new community and sailing center, a 23-slip marina and a playground by the spring of 2016. An outdoor fitness circuit, basketball courts and picnic area will also be built.

And, of course, the new 6,100-square-foot Girl Scout facility will be constructed on the northwest corner of the site.

"We are so thrilled," said Nancy Nygren, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Orange County. "We want to express deep gratitude to the city of Newport Beach for giving us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on this beautiful site."

Since 1947, Girl Scouts of Orange County has leased a house at 1700 West Balboa Boulevard, according to a July staff report prepared when that lease was renewed.

The group will lease the land where the new building will be constructed for $1 a year for the next 50 years, a nominal fee totaling less than the cost of a baker's dozen of boxes of Thin Mints. But the Scouts will be on the hook for the construction and maintenance costs.

The Girl Scouts of Orange County hopes to raise $5 million to build the facility and ensure its sustainability. A significant donor may see his or her name on it.

The new structure will be available for use as a destination for any Girl Scout troop in the world, but particularly for those in the area, Nygren said.

In particular, the building will be designed to provide an opportunity for exploration of science, technology, engineering and math.

"I'm thrilled," said Mary Miller, 69, a Newport Beach resident who was a Girl Scout. "I can see how alive and active and well the Girl Scouts are."

The current building is named for Miller's mother, Neva Thomas, who was an active leader in Scouting.

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