Los Angeles County is taking steps to convert an unused portion of the shuttered MacLaren Children’s Center in El Monte into a new public park.

The property, 4024 Durfee Avenue, served as a temporary shelter for Los Angeles County's foster youth from the 1960s until the early 2000s, when the facility closed in the wake of a lawsuit over its treatment of mentally-ill children.  Since its closure nearly 20 years ago, much of the roughly 13-acre property has been walled off from the surrounding neighborhood - though some buildings remain in use as offices for County departments and as a community clinic.

Citing the results of the Los Angeles County Parks Needs Assessment, which found that El Monte has just .4 acres of park space per 1,000 residents - far below the 3.3 acre average for the County as a whole - officials have targeted an unused space at the southeast corner of the MacLaren campus for the development of new open space.

The approximately four-acre area - located adjacent to Gillman Road – would be renamed MacLaren Community Park.  The County is considering options such as athletic fields, exercise equipments, picnic areas, and walking paths, following a series of community outreach meetings held in 2019.

“Access to green spaces is a matter of public health and social equity,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis in a news release. “Parks are the cornerstones of connecting our communities, and they provide far-reaching benefits: improving our physical and mental well-being, strengthening the social fabric and community pride, establishing a sense of place, cleaning the air and water, and boosting the economy.”

Following a vote taken on November 24 by the Board of Supervisors, County officials are preparing to submit grant applications to the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.

A construction timeline for MacLaren Community Park has not been set, according to a project website.