by Brooke Edwards Staggs
Tustin will get new parks, roads and a new animal shelter this year, officials pledge.
One school will open and another will close. Shopping centers will be built and elections will be held.
As in the past few years, many of the changes in Tustin in 2016 will be concentrated around the Tustin Legacy community, which is being developed at the former Marine Corps Air Station.
However, Mayor John Nielsen said his goal is to also make positive changes in other areas of the city this year. That includes making plans to expand the busy senior center, create attractive gateways into Tustin from major thoroughfares, form a subcommittee to work with North Tustin and launch a citizen’s academy.
“We’ve been doing a lot at Tustin Legacy as far as development,” Nielsen said, “so we need to look at other areas of town and see what we can do to improve them, too.”
Here’s a look at what’s coming to Tustin in 2016.
Due to declining enrollment, Tustin Unified will shutter Lambert Elementary and shift students to nearby Estock Elementary for the 2016-17 school year.
The district will break even on the number of elementary schools, though, since it will also finally open Heritage Elementary as a STEM-focused school Aug. 29.
This year, TUSD will also design a new $85 million secondary magnet school on 40 acres along Tustin Ranch Road at Valencia Avenue. The school will be built to serve students in grades 6 through 12.
Construction should start in the fall on The Village at Tustin Legacy, a 22-acre center being built by Regency Centers at Edinger Avenue and Tustin Ranch Road. Stater Bros. and CVS Pharmacy will anchor the retail side of The Village, while the other portion will be medical offices and an acute-care hospital called Hoag Health Center Tustin.
Flight at Tustin Legacy, previously known as the Cornerstone I center, should also start construction in the fall. Lincoln Property Co. is still negotiating details of the project with the city. But initial plans call for a food hall, shopping and “creative office space” on 37 acres along Barranca Parkway at the northwest corner of Armstrong Avenue.
On the other side of town, Trader Joe’s will move down the road to the 23,250-square-foot former Longs Drugs location in the Tustin Heights Shopping Center. There’s likely to be news this year about the future of Tustin’s two Haggen store sites, which shut down in 2015 after the grocery chain filed for bankruptcy. Also, Orchard Supply Hardware should finish the process of converting the shuttered Tustin Lanes bowling alley into a home improvement store.
Other businesses expected to open in 2016 include:
SAFETY MEETS TECHNOLOGY
The Tustin Police Department is expected to make a recommendation soon to the City Council on implementing a body camera program.
The department got proposals in the fall from companies with technology to integrate body cameras with existing in-car computers and dashboard cameras.
A new website for the Police Department should also go live early this year. The city launched a new website in July that’s more attractive, easier to navigate and lets residents customize their experience. Now the linked Police Department site will be redesigned to make similar improvements.
The City Council this year plans to also discuss adding a Tustin Police substation in the Tustin Legacy area, Nielsen said.
Thanks to a land swap approved in December, the county says it’s moving forward this year with decades-old plans to build a $25 million animal shelter at the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Station. The board hopes to award a bid in April and break ground June 6 to replace OC Animal Care’s aging shelter in Orange.
Work should start this year on two new major city parks in Tustin Legacy.
Veterans Sports Park at Tustin Legacy will be built on 31.5 acres along Valencia Avenue at Severyns Road. The park will include the city’s first veterans memorial, lighted soccer fields, pickleball courts and a permanent skate park while also giving Tustin more ball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds and water play areas.
The city also hopes to begin developing the first, $10 million segment of its planned Linear Park. The park will run up the middle of Tustin Legacy, with paths connecting neighborhoods and amenities.
Plans are in the works to relieve traffic congestion at The District shopping center, Nielsen said.
The mayor also hopes 2016 might finally see some progress on extending Newport Avenue through to Edinger Avenue – a project that’s been discussed for some 35 years.
“It’s kind of been in the background since 2008,” Nielsen said, as cities tightened their belts during the recession. “It’s time to bring it back.”
The city plans to finish extending Moffet Drive from Peter’s Canyon Channel to Park Avenue in Tustin Legacy in 2016, also improving storm drains in the area. And in the spring, staff will start widening Peter’s Canyon Channel and adding an adjacent bike path that will feed into one that runs to Newport Beach’s Back Bay.
This year, Tustin aims to finish construction of a new well adjacent to the Marriott Hotels on Edinger Avenue. Once it’s running, the well will increase the city’s groundwater production and improve reliability of the water system.
A decision should be reached in April on who will handle sewer service for 80,000 customers in western Tustin, North Tustin and El Modena, an unincorporated community near Orange.
East Orange County Water District and Irvine Ranch Water District submitted applications, both promising to lower rates for customers. Staff from the Orange County Local Area Formation Commission recommended allowing Irvine Ranch Water to take over, though the decision will rest with LAFCO’s 11-member regional board.
NONPROFITS REACH FURTHER
Orange County Rescue Mission plans to expand its services this year by doubling the number of beds allowed at its transitional housing facility, Village of Hope. The nonprofit will also partner with Mission Bible Church to offer public services in its existing chapel.
In March, the Rescue Mission hopes to move formerly homeless veterans into two fourplexes along Newport Avenue at Sycamore Avenue. The mission bought the properties from the city and spent 2015 converting them into a complex that will house up to 32 veterans as they transition out of homelessness.
Tustin Community Foundation is also adding two new events to its busy roster this year. The Patriots & Pioneers program will help recognize Tustin residents who have served the country. And the foundation will host four mobile breast cancer screening clinics in 2016 at locations throughout the city, with details to come.
During the Nov. 8 election, three seats will be up for grabs on both the City Council and Tustin Unified School District Board of Education.
Terms will end this year for Nielsen, Mayor Pro Tem Allan Bernstein and Councilman Chuck Puckett, with Nielsen termed out and unable to run again.
The three conservatives ran as a slate in 2012, calling themselves “Team Tustin.” Nielsen was an incumbent then, while Puckett was returning to the council after a term that ended in 1994 and Bernstein was a newcomer.
On the school board, terms will end for James Laird, Tammie Bullard and Francine Scinto.
Laird, who’s been a board member since 2004, said he intends to run again. Bullard and Scinto have both been on the board since 1996. All three easily reclaimed their seats in the 2012 election.
Most of the incumbents haven’t announced whether they intend to seek re-election in the fall. But anyone interested in running for one of the open seats will be able to file paperwork in the summer, with details posted to ocvote.com.
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