Transformation nearly done on OC campground

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. Officials said $12 million has gone into making the El Moro Campground at Crystal Cove State Park a tourist destination.

With every nail and every picnic table moved into place, this coastal development--35 acres between /*Laguna Beach*/ and /*Newport Beach*/--moves closer to completion.

"There's an incredible amount of activity going on. Our contractors are working at a furious pace," said Todd Lewis, Crystal Cove State Park superintendant.

Work is well under way at El Moro Campground after delays last year when construction stopped due to the budget crisis.

The area will offer 60 camp sites, each with an ocean view. The area is right next to miles of trails.

Down below, across /*Pacific Coast Highway*/, crews worked on a lifeguard station, where the beach will be returning to its natural state.

Just four years ago, mobile homes sat in what used to be El Morro Village.

Nearly 300 families were forced to move when the state, which owns the land, started transforming the space into something everyone can share.

"I remember when everyone had to leave and it was a big controversy. It was unfortunate for all of them, but now the public will get to use this beautiful area," said Frank Glas of Aliso Viejo.

Parts of the past remain, such as pathways made from recycled road material.

Workers are planting up to 18,000 native plants. Most of the plants came from seeds that were collected from within the park.

Park officials expect about 1000 people will use the area each day. There will be 200 extra parking spots, access to the beach and structures that can be reserved for special events.

Opening day is scheduled for the summer of 2011.

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