Capital Projects - MacLaren Park

CEO Capital Projects

County Spending Category
3.4 Capital Projects
Federal Expenditure Category
Prevention in Congregate Settings (Nursing Homes, Prisons/Jails, Dense Work Sites, Schools, Child care facilities, etc.)
Project Launch Date
Anticipated End Date

Project Contacts

Indicators & Metrics to Date

  • Number of Households Receiving Eviction Prevention Services (Including Legal Representation)
  • Number of Affordable Housing Units Preserved or Developed

Target Populations

Project Description

The COVID-19 pandemic heightened our awareness of the connections between physical and mental health on one hand and both physical activity and social connectedness on the other. This is true at both the individual and community levels, and when indoor gatherings become hazardous to public health, the role of parks becomes paramount. Or as one expert noted during the height of the pandemic, “if a city doesn’t have enough green space for the amount of people who live there, that’s a public health issue.”1 The importance of accessing open space during the pandemic has also highlighted access to parks as an environmental and social justice issue. The City of El Monte has identified as lacking in open/recreational space for at least six years, as the 2016 Los Angeles County Parks Needs Assessment revealed that the city has less than half an acre (.38) of parkland per 1,000 residents. This falls into the assessment’s “very high need” category and is significantly below the county average of 3.3 acres per 1,000 residents. The affluent community of Malibu, on the other hand, averages 13 acres per 1,000 residents. Physical activity at parks and open spaces can play a role in population health outcomes, as a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for chronic diseases and more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Parks, recreation facilities, and sidewalks can promote healthier living environments by allowing for safe and socially distanced recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing the amount of green space in El Monte, an area ranked as “Highest Need” by the COVID-19 Vulnerability & Recovery Index, can buffer the pandemic’s impact in several ways. By creating appealing outdoor space, residents are encouraged to engage in both physical activity and social connection, two activities that are known to not only decrease the risk of chronic disease, but also improve mental health and cognitive function. By reducing the incidence of chronic disease in the city of El Monte, we reduce the risk of comorbidities that increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 as well of the severity of the disease. Furthermore, the pandemic’s consequences have gone beyond physical health outcomes, with growing numbers of mental health disorders and diagnoses across the population. Spending time outdoors is documented to reduce the incidence of mental health challenges. Capital Programs is leveraging ARP funding along with additional sources of funds to support the development of a new park in the City of El Monte, one of the highest need areas in the County, according to the Equity Explorer. The area where the proposed park is located is also rated as “Highest Need” by the COVID-19 Vulnerability & Recovery Index. The new park will be located within the campus of the MacLaren Children’s Center, a former residential facility for youth in foster care which operated on the site from the 1960s until its closure in 2003. Since that time, the campus has been closed and inaccessible to the public and is surrounded by a high perimeter wall. The project would include demolition of the existing unused and underused buildings. The MacLaren campus consists of 13.65 acres in total; the new park will be located in the northern section of the property and will consist of approximately 5.3 acres. The new park is intended to serve current and future residents of El Monte as well as nearby communities. The new park will be located across the street from Twin Lakes Elementary School and approximately one-quarter mile from the San Gabriel River Trail, part of a regional open space/greenway network known as the Emerald Necklace. Repurposing the underutilized MacLaren property will provide the community with recreational and open space opportunities and positions the new park for connection with this regional network of trails and open spaces, in turn promoting non-motorized transportation and healthy lifestyles. The project involves development of a new community park including the following features: one regulation-size soccer field with a superimposed softball field tennis and basketball courts shielded field/court lighting to minimize spillover lighting for adjacent residences an event lawn and raised performance pavilion/gazebo a walking promenade and fitness area a family gathering/barbeque area and book exchange/chess tables two play areas (for pre-school and grade school) with rubber surfacing and a water feature a children’s discovery garden and play mound a native botanic garden and bioswales restrooms, storage, and security lighting This park space will work to improve both the mental and physical health of El Monte residents, equipping them to better weather the pandemic’s ongoing impact and actively contribute to their community’s recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19.

Goals & Objectives

Goal Description To increase available green space in the San Gabriel Valley region by 5.3 acres (increasing the City of El Monte’s green space by roughly 12%), thereby providing a safe and inviting new park space for social gatherings and recreational activities along with the associated physical and mental health benefits.

Objective Description Provide access for approximately 30,000 residents to 5.3 acres of new green space within walking distance (i.e.: ½ mile) of their homes.

Activity Description Hosted six at-large community meetings to seek input on park design elements and amenities most needed by the community

Activity Description Convened CAC – with members representing local school districts, youth and sports organizations, and local governmental agencies – to validate input received from the community meetings and advise the County and City on outreach strategy and potential partnerships

Objective Description Increase the number of acres of park space in El Monte from 0.38 to 0.43 acres per 1,000 residents, bringing the City closer to the Countywide average.

Objective Description Provide access for the approximately 22,000 students in El Monte public schools (grades K-12) to a new soccer field, softball field and tennis court.

Goal Description To ensure park utilization, the County will partner with the City of El Monte Parks & Recreation Division to catalyze community engagement over the lifetime of the City’s ground lease for the park (i.e., during the period when park is expected to operate).

Objective Description The City of El Monte Parks & Recreation Division will partner with at least three local schools and/or community organizations to increase utilization of park resources through the design and implementation of park programming strategies that are community informed and publicly evaluated.

Activity Description Draft partnership agreements with at least three nearby community organizations (e.g., local school districts, youth and civic organizations, neighborhood associations), which will inform park programming

Activity Description Develop a park programming schedule for local residents

Activity Description Collect and track park use data

Activity Description Create flyers, newsletters, email blasts, and City website posts to keep the community informed about park programs, classes, and special events

Activity Description Disseminate communications to residents online and through local organizations & community hub

Objective Description Provide approximately 50 hours per week of programming (70 hours per week during summer months) to El Monte residents at low or no cost.

Goal Description To contribute to the economic recovery and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, the County will aim to hire, through the selected contractor, approximately 100 workers for the construction phase of the project, of whom at least 30 will be Local Residents and at least 10 will be Targeted Workers (i.e., individuals facing employment barriers), in accordance with the County’s Local and Targeted Worker Hire Policy. The City of El Monte Parks & Recreation Division will create approximately 7-10 local jobs for parks maintenance and operations.

Objective Description Create approximately 100 temporary jobs during construction of the new park facilities (at least 30 of which would be filled by local workers and at least 10 by “targeted” workers), and create 7-10 new permanent jobs related to park operations and maintenance.

Activity Description Hire 100 construction workers to build the park, of whom at least 30 will be Local Residents and at least 10 will be Targeted Workers (i.e., individuals facing employment barriers), in accordance with the County’s Local and Targeted Worker Hire Policy

Activity Description Contract with one or more local vendors to operate park programs/classes

Activity Description Hire 7 staff to operate and maintain the park (1 full-time maintenance worker and 6 part-time recreational program staff)

Activity Description Onboard staff and train them to run the park programming

Activity Description Conduct research on the available local contract vendors to operate park programs/classes

Goal Description To contribute to the County’s sustainability and climate resiliency goals, the design of the park will incorporate ecological and educational elements relevant to the El Monte community, including native plants, water filtration, and interpretive plaques, which are tailored to local students’ learning needs and reflect community feedback

Objective Description Oversee architect to ensure that the park design incorporates educational amenities tailored to local students’ learning needs, including outdoor classrooms and interpretive plaques.

Activity Description Develop a construction plan (informed by City residents) for the park

Activity Description Hire a design-build contractor to construct the park

Activity Description Execute the construction plan with the contractor, the City, and the County

Objective Description Oversee architect to ensure that the park design incorporates ecological amenities including native plants/landscaping, bioswales, and permeable paving.

Objective Description Oversee contractor and volunteers to build and install identified educational and ecological amenities.