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Manteca’s sweetest – and most unusual – city park

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Manteca’s sweetest – and most unusual – city park

The four up ended pieces of culvert pipe represent the old Spreckels Sugar silo.


POSTED January 14, 2012 2:22 a.m.

Manteca’s most unusual park - and most cost effective public-private venture isn’t the Big League Dreams sports complex.

The park  also doubles as the home of Manteca’s biggest piece of public art.

And while it is the best kept secret of city parks it is arguably the most visible given the fact a minimum of 20,000 vehicles pass it each day.

 It is the historical plaza honoring Spreckels Sugar that served as Manteca’s largest private sector employer for years and symbolized prosperity in Manteca from 1916 until its demise in 1996.

The park is on Spreckels venue behind the Chevron station. It fronts Historical Plaza Way and can be seen from the front doors of Target.

The focal point of the park are four sections of culvert pipe put up on their ends to represent the four 50-foot tall concrete sugar silos that once dominated Manteca’s skyline. The plaza also includes brick from the original Spreckels Sugar factory that once stood about where Target is today.

Back in the late 1990s when the city was cobbling together a redevelopment agency loan to AKF Development - the forerunners of ANF Development - then councilman Jay Smart pushed to include a small park as part of the development agreement.

Smart originally wanted to save the gigantic Spreckels Sugar sign that once graced the top of the main factory and then later over the entrance road off of Yosemite Avenue that was almost directly across from Mylnar Avenue.

He had hoped to see the sign go back up on the southwest corner of what is today Norman Drive and Spreckels Avenue. Engineers, though, determined the sign was in such bad shape that it couldn’t be saved. Smart - and the rest of the council - were ready to settle for a plaque in a small park at that location.

That was fine for most folks but it was too blah for AKF partner Mike Atherton. Not only did he move the site but he also helped come up with the pseudo silo concept.

His partners at the time thought he had gone a bit nuts especially once the tab came to $250,000 plus and it was all on AKF’s dime.

Not only that, but the entire maintenance and its cost are borne by the privately funded and operated Spreckels Park landscape maintenance district.

The first two Spreckels Sugar storage silos were built in 1958 to handle increased sugar production. It took 219 truckloads of cement delivering 1,298 yards of cement for a nine and a half hour continuous pour to put the first two foundations in place. Each tower was 150 feet high and 50 feet wide and could hold the equivalent of 275,000 bags of sugar.

The second two silos were built in 1965.

Dennis Wyatt
managing editor

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