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Whatever happened to landscaping at Yosemite & 99?

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POSTED April 6, 2009 4:22 a.m.
What’s the name of Manteca’s official flower?

Apparently it is the weed.

Weeds are what grace Manteca’s front door at Yosemite Avenue and Highway 99 in a testimonial to the fact government moves at a pace that would put your garden variety snail to sleep waiting for results.

The project is more overdue than government spending reform in Sacramento.

The landscaping of the areas along the freeway ramps and medians on Yosemite Avenue is part of the $18 million plus modernization of the interchange. There is Measure K funding set aside specifically for the purpose of landscaping the interchange.

The “start” date kept getting pushed back all during 2007 and 2008 while the council debated over whether a water feature was feasible. It wasn’t as it was cost prohibitive. Then the final landscaping plans were drawn up and it was going to go to bid after the start of 2009.

We’ll closing in on the mid-point of 2009 and the only things growing out there are good old Manteca weeds.

It fits in nicely with the foreclosure motif in terms of residential landscaping that dots virtually every Manteca neighborhood. For once, perhaps the interchange’s appearance is re-enforcing the real picture of what everyone else has of Manteca given the foreclosure news.

It’s ironic but the landscaping project isn’t even on the much ballyhooed major project status list that staff issues once a month to keep the council and public appraised of progress they are making on “major projects” Perhaps a set aside of around $500,000 for enhancing the appearance of Manteca’s proverbial front door isn’t a major project by definition.

It begs the question why there was such a hullabaloo among elected leaders over the landscaping as well as why the Highway 99/Yosemite Avenue interchange was taken off as a “completed project” since the landscaping has always been the second phase of the project.

The landscaping is on schedule compared to the completion of the Tidewater Bikeway kiosk in downtown Manteca by Regal Signs. That’s been a 10-year odyssey which doesn’t make any sense now to complete given the shape of the general fund and the parks project budget.

Having said that, the landscaping project has money earmarked that can’t be used to pay workers or cover other day-to-day city needs. It must be spent on landscaping of transportation improvements. It is one of those projects that Mayor Willie Weatherford and the council has long noted there is money for that can’t be used for anything else and the project is virtually ready that it needs to go forward now to provide jobs in the private sector.

Oddly enough, the city’s own projects speak volumes about the frustrations of the private sector. Time tables seem to mean nothing at times to the city.

Delays, of course adds to the cost of project thanks to inflation. Of course, this is one of the few times when you could actually argue that the delay has reduced the cost thanks to the overall economy and how competitive private sector firms are getting to secure work. Having said that, by the time the landscaping project goes to bid we will probably be pulling out of the recession and enjoying runaway inflation.

Instead of just accepting the major project status report during this Tuesday council meeting and filing it as part of the consent calendar, perhaps our elected leaders should quiz a staff member or two about why the landscaping project isn’t on there and exactly what is holding it up. And, after a reason is given, then ask what is being done to speed it up.

Manteca’s municipal workforce may be getting lean but all departments need to get mean.

If Manteca Police can do the job with 14 less people then other departments should be able to do the same.
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