One of the oldest school grounds in the City is in the first phase of being given new life as a park site. Pio Pico Elementary which was built in the 1920’s to serve as a school for the ranch workers children in the town of Pico, hasn’t seen a classroom full of students since its closure following the last day of school in 2008.
Since then, City officials have been actively pursuing the idea of using the underutilized property as a City Park for the residents who live in that neighborhood. The nearest park sites for children in that neighborhood is Pico Park and Rio Hondo Park, both of which are approximately one mile away.
The site has been used by the City in the past, running summer programs and after school programs in a make shift recreation room located near the school’s basketball courts. Other City programs that have been hosted at Pio Pico Elementary include a Holiday Toy Distribution and the annual Summer Meal Program. The City has also contributed improvements to the site including a new Basketball Court in 2005, and more recently was able to secure grant funding from the non-profit organization, KaBoom! to build a new playground.
Transforming the school site into a public park has garnered the support from the neighborhood since conceptual designs were first developed in 2009 with the community providing input into the park’s design. Due to budget constraints at the time, the project did not materialize and the school site was used in its current configuration.
In 2016, City officials along with the El Rancho Unified School District established a joint ad hoc committee to discuss the joint-use projects and programs between the City and the District. During the monthly meetings, both officials from the City and the District began discussing a partnership to revitalize efforts to construct a park at Pio Pico Elementary.
Recently, the City Council approved plans to begin the first phase of transforming the school into a park. Construction is anticipated to begin in December and will include the installation of a walking trail, solar walkway lights, picnic tables on concrete pads, installation of a new irrigation system, steel fencing and gates along Ibsen Street, and reseeding of the turf. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by April 2019.