The former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro is being transformed into the first great metropolitan park of the 21st Century, the Orange County Great Park. It is located in the geographic center of Orange County, California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Spanning more than 1,300 acres (nearly twice the size of New York's Central Park) the Great Park'ss award-winning master plan embraces environmental sustainability, preserves Orange County's agricultural heritage, and honors the military history of the former air base. Upon completion, the Orange County Great Park will join America's inventory of national treasures and set a new standard for great metropolitan parks around the world. Construction of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro began in 1942 on a parcel of land acquired from the Irvine Ranch Corporation, a precursor to the Irvine Company. The base was originally built as a wartime air station for the purpose of aircraft squadron formation and unit training prior to overseas combat. MCAS El Toro was commissioned on March 17, 1943, and in 1950, was selected as a permanent Master Jet Station and center of support for the operation and combat readiness of Fleet Marine Forces, Pacific. Throughout its history, MCAS El Toro has served the country as a training facility in peacetime and a staging area for support of overseas military missions in times of conflict. The base formally closed on July 2, 1999. The County of Orange was designated the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) for development of a Community Reuse Plan to guide future development of the former base. First planned as an international airport, Orange County voters approved Measure W (the Orange County Central Park and Nature Preserve Initiative) on March 5, 2002 setting the stage to transform the former base into a park. They held a design competition which was won by Ken Smith.