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Manteca veterans get a home

Work on Moffat Community Hall will be done in 206 days

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Manteca veterans get a home

The red area shows the site of the envisioned Moffat Boulevard Community Center/VFW Hall at Moffat Boulevard and Spreckels Avenue/Industrial Park Drive.

Image courtesy of Google Maps/

POSTED April 8, 2014 1:49 a.m.

The envisioned Moffat Boulevard Community Hall — the future home of Manteca’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post — is a testimonial to perseverance, ingenuity, and municipal staff’s can-do attitude.

The 3,200-square-foot structure complete with a commercial kitchen is being designed to accommodate 200 people. And even though ground has yet to be broken on the 50-foot deep site on the southeast corner of Industrial Park Drive/Spreckels Avenue and Moffat Boulevard, the city is on track to have it completed by Nov. 1. That’s so those who have served America can observe Veterans Day on Nov. 11 at their new home.

Each year like clockwork for a decade or so before passing away earlier this year, Battle of the Bulge veteran Bill Castillo would make inquiries at city hall about the possible use of the old fire station at 740 W. Center Street as a home for the VFW. Former Manteca mayor and current post commander Carlon Perry picked up the baton. Not only has he been actively pursuing a permanent home for the post but at the same time he has successfully undertaken a campaign to revitalize the organization and expand veteran services.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin — at the council’s instruction — started exploring the possibility of leasing the old fire station to the VFW. The station currently houses the city’s building maintenance division.

It soon became apparent that switching the use to a gathering place would be costly. 

“The building could easily be converted to a commercial use such as a Jiffy Lube at minimal cost but since it was to be used for people to assemble it triggered new (building code) rules that had to be followed,” McLaughlin noted. 

The bathroom at the 2,500-square-foot Center Street building wasn’t much bigger than a closet. To use the building for a large gathering of people it would require three men’s and three women’s bathrooms with handicapped accessibility. That would have consumed the entire office space within the structure. There was only adequate room on site to provide federally required handicapped accessible parking and nothing else.


Center Street remodel could approach $1M in costs

McLaughlin said while those attending functions who weren’t handicapped could use nearby streets to park, it would pose a significant impact on surrounding residential neighborhoods.

City staff also examined the age of the building and other work needed to convert it and quickly realized they could be pushing $1 million in order to renovate it.

A second option was explored involving tearing the old station down and starting from scratch. But that would still leave the issue of parking to address plus would limit the size of tine new building.

McLaughlin then asked staff to look at other city owned property around town.

It was Community Development Director Frederic Clark who suggested the acre that is 50 feet wide and stretches from Industrial Park Drive to nearly the Highway 120 overpass that is squeezed between the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Moffat Boulevard.

Staff determined a 40-foot wide building could be built in the location. It will be 80 feet long. There is also room for 60 parking spaces.

The plan is to utilize a metal building as the structure’s skeleton with architectural treatment inside and out for a quicker and less expensive construction turnaround. It is estimated the site work would cost $300,000 and the actual building $600,000. McLaughlin said she intends to seek a $1 million budget from the bonus bucks funds to cover any contingencies.

At the same time, McLaughlin said Perry is working diligently with private sector concerns that have grant programs to assist veterans in the hope to get some project costs covered or assistance in equipping the interior.

The city manager noted sound deafening design elements can effectively mask most of the train noise.

“If you are inside the transit station (that Manteca finished last year further down Moffat) you can hardly hear the train going by,” McLaughlin said.


Uses leftover acre from bikeway project

McLaughlin notes the project would be another step in revitalizing the Moffat Boulevard corridor. It uses an acre leftover from the purchase of the Tidewater Southern Railroad right-of-way to put in place the 3.4-mile Tidewater Bikeway.

It also would provide parking for the Spreckles Park BMX course located kitty corner across from the site.

McLaughlin stressed the project is not replacing the community center that civic leaders have addressed as a long-term municipal project for Manteca. Nor will the building be for the exclusive use of the VFW.

The lease the City Council executed last week with the VFW notes the structure will be a public building. It will be available for rent by the public when it is not being used for its primary purpose of serving veterans groups and veterans events.

The lease is for $1 a year for 20 years. There are two 10-year options for renewal. The VFW will have first right of refusal to purchase the building and property if the city should decide at the end of the lease to sell.

The VFW will be responsible for all insurance, utilities, maintenance and operations connected with the building and the site as a whole.

It will mark the first time the VFW Post has had its own building to serve as its home. The VFW current shares space with the American Legion at that organization’s building next to PG&E in the 200 block of East Yosemite Avenue.

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