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Process approaching 8 years

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Workers are putting the finishing touches on $8 million of underground infrastructure improvements needed to bring a destination waterpark resort to Manteca.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED August 7, 2017 1:10 a.m.

Former City Manager Steve Pinkerton back in 2010 placed a wristband on his wrist while touring a Great Wolf Resort in the State of Washington.

He never took it off until his final day as city manager when he was going out the door in September of 2011 after accepting the Davis city manager post.  Pinkerton kept it on to remind him every waking moment the importance of cutting a workable deal for the water park on city property west of Costco that had become his  bosses on the City Council’s No. 1 economic development priority.

The band — cut in two — was left in the city manager’s desk drawer but not until he told his successor Karen McLaughlin about its importance. McLaughlin passed it on to Elena Reyes, her replacement.

Tim Ogden today becomes the fifth Manteca city manager — including acting city manager Greg Showerman who spent nine months in that role — charged with trying to secure a deal for a waterpark.

A lot has changed since December 2010 when Great Wolf representatives first appeared before the City Council to make a public presentation about their desire to come to Manteca.

An exhaustive and expensive environmental report that was funded by McWhinney & Co. — the project’s developers – was completed and adopted to clear the time consuming and biggest hurdle needed to build a 500-room hotel, indoor water park and conference center on 30 acres. 

Then Great Wolf wanted to rethink the deal that was waiting for the final EIR adoption before it went to the council for pubic venting.

McWhinney then went searching for another suitor dangling Manteca being at the epicenter of 18 million consumers; being part of the richest mega region in the nation centered on San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento: and having a completed and accepted EIR worth its weight in gold in California’s contentious development arena.

Now McWhinney has two suitors knocking on the door including one that wants to build an even bigger destination resort with significantly more amusement amenities on twice the city-owned land — 60 acres — fronting the 120 Bypass between Costco and the future McKinley Avenue interchange.

Last week, the City ponied up another $7,500 to cover more work that Economic & Planning Systems is performing as a subcontractor for the legal firm of Richard Watson & Gershon that is an expertise in California public financing. The firm has more than 60 attorneys at five locations throughout the state.

The legal firm is guiding a two member City Council subcommittee that includes Mayor Steve DeBrum in their negotiations with McWhinney.

So far the city has spent $139,710 on the negotiation process excluding staff time.  That is in addition to $8 million in redevelopment agency bond proceeds spent  installing infrastructure needed to develop the city-owned land as a family entertainment zone as well make it possible for wastewater to flow by gravity from south of the 120 Bypass and for treated wastewater to go south for irrigating parks.

DeBrum declined to comment on negotiations but did reassert that he wasn’t “going to give away the farm” on any deal for a destination resort.

That in part explains the extensive number crunching that is now taking place. 

It is similar to the process that led to Manteca securing the Big League Dreams sports complex.

BLD represented a $30 million investment using RDA funds with the city general fund on pace to receive over $14 million during the 35-year lease period as well as avoid spending $17 million from the general fund on maintenance and operations of the sports complex. It has generated roughly a hundred part-time jobs

The waterpark deal involves only $8 million but in its smallest version represents a private sector investment surpassing $200 million with an expected 535 new jobs.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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