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El Monte’s Zamora Park to Get Major Makeover

2:44 PM PDT on May 6, 2022

El Monte’s secluded Zamora Park is set for nearly $8.4 million in updates come the end of 2022. That’s when work starts on a new playground, circuit trails, exercise equipment, planting a hundred or so trees, and the centerpiece - a splash pad.

Zamora Park is hemmed in by the 10 and 605 freeways, Ramona Boulevard, and a shopping center around the Longo Toyota dealership. The nearest park you can walk or bike to without crossing freeway on ramps is Lambert Park (about a mile away, off busy Peck Road).

The renovation project at Zamora is part of First 5 L.A.’s pilot program ‘Link’ aka Link Government, Advocates, Families and Parks. The program links municipalities in First 5 L.A.’s ‘Best Start Communities’ for investment – “14 geographic areas that have faced historic disenfranchisement and oppression” – to park funds from Measure A and Prop. 68 by assisting them with grant writing.

First 5 L.A. spokesperson Katie Kurutz tells Streetsblog “What happens is when large amounts of money become available, it's the communities that have the capacity that get the money, and usually those are the higher income communities.” she says, referring to cities with in-house grant writers. “So it's really an equity issue.”

The park’s developer, The Trust for Public Land, says the goal is creating access to green space within a ten minute walk for families in El Monte’s Hayes neighborhood (once home to a labor camp during segregation). “We know that children of all ages learn better, sleep better, are better able to deal with stress and anxiety when they have access to open space,” says TPL Program Director Robin Mark, referring to a study by Unicef.

Of course, this green space already exists, but Mark says while doing community outreach with Active SGV, many locals told them they don’t feel safe at Zamora Park. Besides getting more people and more lighting into the park, Mark says it’s critical to open it up more.

“We're going to take down some of the fencing that sort of creates barriers and makes it feel like you've got multiple parks in one location,” says Mark, referring to the gates surrounding the picnic area.

“We're also going to provide a new restroom building and kind of rethink about the spacing of how the park is laid out,” Mark adds, noting that the current restroom blocks a clear view through the park.

Mark also tells Streetsblog that The Trust for Public Land will work with Active SGV on redeveloping the defunct six acre Norwood Elementary School campus into a green space.

Zamora Park’s renovations are expected to be finished by late 2023.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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