The future of Baldwin Park’s park system is improving steadily under the leadership of Mayor Emmanuel Estrada. Barnes Park is slated for renovations and rainwater capture upgrades. The Susan Rubio Zocalo Park by city hall broke ground last year, as did the Big Dalton Wash Bike and Walk path. And along the Wash four pocket parks are being planned. The latest announcement is the Maine Avenue Mini-Park, to be built just below the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, nearly at the city’s northern border with Irwindale.
Estrada, who grew up in Baldwin Park, tells SBLA “I thought it was just a really important thing to do to create green space on the north end of the city. We are for sure, park poor. We don't have enough green space in general, but we don't have any green space in the north end of Baldwin Park.”
Why does access to a small park matter when the sizable Santa Fe Dam is right there? The city’s Director of Recreation and Community Services Manny Carrillo says times have changed since the area’s park system was built up in the 20th century.
“Most parents these days don't really allow their children to go walking down the street to go visit a park or to ride their bike,” says Carrillo. “And in order to utilize Santa Fe Dam, you pretty much need to get in your automobile, go across a busy thoroughfare [Arrow Highway] and then depending on which day it is you have to pay to get into the park unless you're walking. And if you walk to that specific park, there's a pretty big uphill, so maybe your grandparents may not be able to walk up that hill.”
Maine Ave Mini-Park will be on a 8,342 square foot lot, near the corner of Maine Avenue and Joanbridge Street. The city bought it from a homeowner for $650,000 and leveled the house there to build a mini-park that will include a bioswale, playground, shade trees, fitness equipment, shade structures, picnic tables, and restrooms.
The bulk of the funding for the park came from the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy ($761,672), with additional money from Measure A ($297,000), the L.A. County Regional Park Open Space Technical Assistance Program ($29,850), and Measure W ($20,000). The city will put in $346,850 of its own.
Carrillo estimates the mini-park will break ground by summer of this year, with public input taking place “most likely in February,” and hopefully a grand opening next summer.
“This is probably one of the smaller pocket parks.” says Carrillo. “But we are working with the property that we have. There is a vacant property right behind it. So who knows maybe five or ten years from now we could purchase that piece of land when those folks are ready to sell their parcel.”
There will be local workforce development for the project, according to David Marquez, grant consultant for the city of Baldwin Park (Senior Project Manager at California Consulting). “That will include work that we'll do with the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps. And we also have a partnership with Amigos de los Rios, working with youth and community engagement.”
The guiding principles behind the project are environmental justice and equity, says Estrada. “There's going to be households that can access this park without crossing the street. And that's a pretty big deal.”
“It's your zip code that ultimately defines how healthy you're going to be. Baldwin Park is seven square miles, it's surrounded by three major freeways, the 210, the 10, and the 605. You know, it translates into pollution into the air. We're working class. Working class people have a hard time going to the doctor and getting that health care, eating healthier, you know, just having access to green space. And I wanted to be able to tackle that. And so it's really not just green space, it's an opportunity for a healthier lifestyle. It's an opportunity to have cleaner air and an opportunity to live in a city that people are proud to live in after a hard day's work.”
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