Madrid Middle School Park

Vacant billboard lot site of Madrid Middle School Park

Billboard lot before Amigos de los Rios greening project located at the 605 Fwy and the San Gabriel River Trail

Madrid Middle School Park location before Amigos renovation

To ready the site for the park 124 tons of trash and debris were removed by the California Conservation Corp Vacant lot before Amigos began renovation for Madrid Middle School Park

Madrid Middle School Park Planting

Amigos de los Rios plants the finishing touches at Madrid Middle School Park

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3300 Gilman Road, El Monte, CA

BEFORE  – This  .25 acre was a dump  site located  along the Northern Boundary of the Madrid Middle School Field had served as a trash dump for green and household waste  for over 20 years.

AFTER  –  Trash has been removed, site is regarded to manage storm water effectively – Amigos de los Rios worked with Principal and  Physical Education Teachers  who selected exercise equipment  to create  a nature based exercise trail.  The school Band now practices here and after school “THINK TOGETHER” program does native plant gardening.

Madrid Middle School Park is part of an Amigos de los Rios  initiative to document and convert vacant and neglected billboard lots along side the 605 Freeway and the San Gabriel River Trail into public recreational areas.

For years, the Mountain View School District and the roughly 850 students attending Madrid Middle School in El Monte called the area just past their back steps “the Bones.” It was, literally, a dump – a no-man’s land between the school and an old metal factory littered with abandoned sofas, TVs, mattresses and other household trash. It was not the kind of place that invited exploration, much less physical exercise or a game of tag.

From blight to bright, the reinvented Madrid Middle School is now the kind of place we all want our children to experience.

Community Youth Involvement

Community based park design incorporates ideas from residents, city officials, and other stakeholders, building support and excitement for the project. Madrid Middle School’s PE teachers and eight grade students provided park amenity ideas; their goal – physical fitness; training stations are located throughout the park for circuit type exercises and walking trails to keep visitors moving while enjoying the green space.

Getting the park site ready – Students participated in removing invasive plants and with the help of the California Conservation Corps, and Los Angeles Conservation Corps removed 124 tons of trash and debris  from the site. From the photographs you can see the change the park brought to the area, once a trash laden lot – now a beautiful safe place for children and families to play.

The Madrid Middle School Park and Exercise Trail was officially dedicated during a special celebration including state and local dignitaries, students, teachers, a marching band and the hard working volunteers who helped transform the area into the beautiful setting it is today.

This site is a location of Regular Saturday Stewardship events.  Hundreds of community college, high school, middle school students and their families, as well as local residents, veterans and business owners have participated in Emerald Necklace Stewardship events.

Learn more about billboard lots in Carren Jao’s article for KCET.org Departures.

Project Team: Amigos de los Rios, California Conservation Corps, Los Angeles County Conservation Corps

Park Funding: California Natural Resources, CALTRANS and California Community Foundation

Madrid Middle School Park Design Elements:

Park Wildlife – iNaturalist.org

Design Plan

The Emerald Necklace Map

To keep the parks and trails of the Emerald Necklace Park Network at their best and help out the municipalities overseeing the locations, Amigos de los Rios conducts weekly Park Restoration Events. This work is all lovingly done by volunteers. We welcome anyone that wants to help out their community, learn about nature and their environment, and get to know others with the same interests.