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Wayfaring signs exclude chamber among destinations

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POSTED September 22, 2010 2:18 a.m.
On Tuesday afternoon a young lady stopped by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce office.

Her parents had moved to Del Webb at Woodbridge and she was thinking of moving to Manteca. She had already looked at Atherton Homes’ Summit Collection at Union Ranch and was impressed. But she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to move to Manteca but she was being urged to do so by the company that employs her.

Currently she works out of her home in Contra Costa County. The firm, which is based out of Cleveland, is interested in areas with strong growth potential.

So she wanted to do a bit of research to find out whether Manteca was a good fit for herself as well as her chosen field.

So where did she go? City Hall? No. The Manteca Visitors Center? No. She stopped by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce in search of demographics and any other information she could find out about Manteca.

It was a logical choice. Local chambers of commerce nationwide are associated with communities and growth. Those in the private sector often feel more comfortable dealing with them to do exploratory research. And that is even after they’ve surfed the Web looking for information. Human connection is a key to selling almost anything – a house, a car, or a community to live in and to invest in.

It was the Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Debby Moorhead who not only provided the young lady with what she wanted but also gave her a personal sell touching upon various people, the reception that she got when she moved to Manteca, and how friendly people were complete with examples. She didn’t whitewash the bad but answered straight up. But she was careful to point out positive things that aren’t necessarily obvious to someone who is thinking about relocating.

What makes this all pertinent is a proposed City of Manteca community directional sign program that very conveniently directs people to 14 points of interest of which the chamber isn’t one of them.

The excuse can’t be floated that these are signs aimed only at visitors’ attractions unless there is some overriding reason the courthouse on Center Street is a tourist attraction. The proposed signs have directions to the courthouse but not the chamber.

Council action on the wayfaring signs was pulled from Tuesday’s agenda as the selected colors and how much community input was received has come into question.

The real question that should be asked isn’t about the colors but about how thorough the signs really are.  If you are going to spend $37,000 in redevelopment money you should make sure that they are effective and complete.

While one can’t list everything on the sign, the biggies for visitors should be on them. The chamber – just like the visitors center – falls into that category. If there is some concern that the chamber might one day move the same is true for the visitors’ center. And while we’re at it, what about Doctors Hospital? It isn’t unusual for visitors or tourists to need to access an emergency room. (Kaiser is a closed membership hospital.)

Perhaps the tennis center doesn’t need to be listed since it is adjacent to the golf course but then again why isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be on all signs since not every sign that has the lifestyle outlets has the visitors’ center listed.

Woodward Park was listed for the fact it is a major soccer hub for the region as well as major events such as the Memorial Day observance. Does Northgate Park – which is used extensively by youth softball as well as for gatherings such as Labor Day picnic and such – need to be listed as well?

What about promoting agriculture? Signs delineating the East Highway 120 fruit stands might be a solid addition. If you talk to people who go to and from Yosemite stopping at the stands are often a part of their trip. Why not see if you can get casual visitors to drive a mile or so out of town to buy local produce that generates local jobs?

Does it make sense to tie into rural Manteca attractions? As an example, a couple of the proposed signs on Airport Way could have Caswell State Park on them. That would allow visitors to take advantage of county signs placed before West Ripon Road and then again before Austin Road to reach the state park that thousands of Bay Area people seem to love each summer. It seems strange to exclude the riverside park especially when Manteca is considering investing in a private partnership to being a water park to the community.

It would seem a bit of community input might still be needed.

But then again maybe there is a reason why the destinations that were picked were picked and why those excluded – such as the chamber – were left off.

It’s a safe bet that at least one council member who happens to work as the chamber CEO might be interested in knowing why.
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