The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation Thursday announced it was awarded $15.5 million from the state, which will be used to create an aquatic center in the San Gabriel Valley and modernize Ruben Salazar Park in East Los Angeles.

The grants were awarded on Dec. 8 as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Outdoors for All” initiative. The state seeks to allocate a total of $548.3 million in grant funding through the initiative to create new parks and revitalize old ones across the state.

Ruben Salazar Park’s modernization project will receive $6.9 million of the grant funding, which officials say will help address public health disparities by providing the community with enhanced spaces for physical activity and community connections. The remaining $8.5 million will be used to create the San Gabriel Valley Aquatic Center Park.

“Many thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom for his recent announcement of Statewide Proposition 68 funding that the County of Los Angeles’ Department of Parks and Recreation will receive to provide a new park (Aquatic Center) to an area of very high park need, and also transforming Salazar Park, a well-loved and well-used park, serving a densely populated high-need community within the First Supervisorial District,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

“The new San Gabriel Valley Aquatics Center will provide families across the region with access to lifesaving aquatics programs. In addition, the improvements planned for Salazar Park in East Los Angeles will help provide critical cultural activities and spaces for recreation that will build community social cohesion and introduce new programming opportunities around physical and mental well-being to ensure our communities thrive.”

Ruben Salazar Park was created in 1940, and has only undergone minor updates in the last few years, officials said. The county deems the unincorporated East Los Angeles community as having a very high park need, as it only has one acre of park per 1,000 residents.

The San Gabriel Valley Aquatic Center will provide residents in the area a place to learn to swim, take fitness classes, swim laps and more. It will also feature a playground and picnic shelters.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded over $15 million from Proposition 68 as part of Governor Newsom’s `Outdoors for All’ initiative that will provide significant funding to two critical projects located in our highest need communities as identified by the Los Angeles Countywide Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment,” stated County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Norma E. García-González.

“Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation partnered with community-based organizations and community members to design these projects that will bring significant recreational programs serving our most vulnerable communities.”

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