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Pico Rivera Recreation Programs Receive a Significant Boost Thanks to Governor’s Approved Budget

$17 million will pay for renovations of Smith Park Olympic Aquatic Center and Rio Hondo Park

 PICO RIVERA, CA – JULY 5, 2022 – – The City of Pico Rivera’s effort to provide quality recreational programs and amenities for residents just received a significant boost thanks in great part to the California State Budget recently approved by Governor Newsom. The City will receive $17 million this year toward the renovation efforts of Smith Park Olympic Aquatic Center and Rio Hondo Park.

 “We appreciate the Governor signing the state budget that included funds to help our city address the critical recreational needs of the residents of our City,” said Dr Monica Sánchez, Mayor of Pico Rivera. “Additionally, we owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Bob Archuleta, Assemblywoman Lisa Calderon and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia for their diligent work as formidable endorsers and advocates for earmarking state funds for these programs. They finessed their combined efforts to ensure we received the funding and for that we are grateful.”

 “I would also like to thank infrastructure ad-hoc committee members Councilmembers Gustavo Camacho and Andrew Lara for their hard work and commitment to ensuring Pico Rivera was a priority in this year’s State budget.”

 The pool at the Smith Park Olympic Aquatic Center is currently closed due to failures of both the pump and boiler systems, which are original to the facility. In their current condition, the systems are unable to meet the minimum safety standards for water chemistry per the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The Aquatic Center was originally constructed as a training facility for the 1984 Summer Olympics and has been operated by the City as a public pool ever since. It is the only public pool in the City and serves a highly dense disadvantaged Latino community. Additionally, El Rancho Unified School District has recently requested to use the Aquatic Center to maintain their swim team and water polo programs. The City received $8.5 million toward the renovation of the pool.

 “Pico Rivera families will soon be able to enjoy enhanced recreational programs thanks to the planned renovations of the pool at the Smith Park Olympic Aquatic Center and Rio Hondo Park,” said Councilmember Camacho. “Our families are entitled to quality recreation amenities and programs and the City will now be able to deliver on that promise thanks to Governor Newsom approving the state budget.”

 We know that recreational activities are important for the physical and psychological wellbeing of people,” said Councilmember Lara. People who make recreation a priority are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives overall, according to a 2000 American Recreation Coalition Study. With the refurbishment of our facilities, our planned recreational activities will help our residents create a balance between everyday pressures with physical and mental well-being leading to an improved quality of life.”

 Rio Hondo Park has been a centerpiece of the Pico Rivera community since the park was established 63 years ago. Although limited in size, the city has programmed the park to accommodate a broad range of users. The community center has also been a local focal point for maintaining community wellness by offering a wide array of educational classes and physical activity programs. However, due to extreme demand for park programming and a severe lack of park space, Rio Hondo Park has been suffering from over-use and is currently in a dire state of decline. The City also received $8.5 million toward the renovation of the park.

 The City’s parks and recreational programs have been impacted and set to be severely curtailed due to a significant loss of recreation space resulting from the Whittier Narrows Dam Safety Modification Project (Project). Although the City fully recognizes the need to minimize the risk of structural failure of the dam, and staunchly supports the completion of this project, the Project comes at a far greater cost to the City and the surrounding region. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will assume control off over 104-acres of existing parkland in October 2022 to accommodate much-needed improvements to the Whittier Narrows Dam.

 The Project is set to eliminate access to approximately 67% of all parks, open, and recreation land in the City. Streamland Park, home to Pico Rivera’s little league baseball since 1956, will be demolished and the Pico Rivera Golf Course, a regional institution for low-cost golf, will be reduced to a dirt field. Additionally, Bicentennial Park and the Sports Arena, a nationally recognized Latino entertainment venue, will be rendered inoperable due to the loss of the primary access point.

 As a result of losing 138-acres in total recreational space, the City will be left with less than 1.0 acre of park land per 1,000 residents, which is 2.3-acres less than the County average and approximately 5- acres less than the national average. According to the Los Angeles County Parks Needs Assessment, the City of Pico Rivera is already considered to be park-poor with only 1.3 acres of park space per 1,000 residents compared to the County average of 3.3-acres. Beyond the tragic loss of vital parks, the City and its concessionaires will also lose nearly 100 quality jobs and essential revenue streams such as rent, admissions, parking, merchandise and concession sales, advertising, sales taxes, and more.