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Moffat evolving without a firm city plan in place

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POSTED October 23, 2012 12:48 a.m.

Moffat Boulevard was “the entrance” to Manteca back in the 1940s for Highway 99 travelers.

It was lined with motor courts and honest-to-goodness service stations.

Then with the advent of the freeway in the mid-1950s Moffat Boulevard start slowly falling into disrepair.

The city started reversing that 12 years ago and - with the help of the private sector - started a renaissance of sorts

But efforts to develop a precise vision for the 1.5-mile roadway have failed to go much beyond a $150,000 consultant’s suggested plan that was never adopted by the council. And perhaps it was for good reason. Among the ideas the consultant floated was eventually replacing Eckert’s Cold Storage with business park style uses and eliminating a large swath of Manteca’s most affordable housing - mobile home parks - and replace them not with upgraded affordable housing but traditional single family homes.

And because the city hasn’t determined whether there is a future to Moffat besides improving on its existing makeup, other projects are advancing that could severely limit the corridor’s future.

One such proposal in connection with traffic patterns needed to accommodate the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park would be to cul-de-sac Moffat just south of Woodward Avenue. The reason is the heavy truck traffic expected at the interchange during the first phase of the business park development.

If that was to occur, it would eliminate the possibility of Moffat becoming a direct connection between the Austin Road Business Park and the 10,800 residents one day are expected to live in new housing there and downtown Manteca as well as Spreckels Park.

Mayor Willie Weatherford astutely noted at the dedication of the Industrial Park Drive missing link in 2007 that the intersection of Spreckels Avenue-Industrial Park Drive and Moffat Boulevard had the potential of becoming the geographic/economic center of Manteca.

Other plans floated for downtown in the past have envisioned the ultimate expansion of the central district’s core to as far east as Sherman Avenue along the west side of the Manteca High campus.

But even without a grand plan in place for Moffat, changes for the better have slowly come to the corridor.

Signs of the investment by the City of Manteca and the private sector have made over the past 12 years along what was once Highway 99 and the main southern entrance to town can be seen from Austin Road to South Main Street. And once the $6.9 million transit station is completed next spring the days of Moffat being a long neglected stepchild when it comes to corridors of commerce in Manteca will fade even more.

Among the private sector investments:

•The Crossroads Community Church complete with its JFK Airport-style canopy accent to a fountain featuring a massive stone sphere of the earth.

•The Manteca Business Park.

•The southern portion of Spreckels Park including Frito-Lay Distribution and in-line warehouses owned by Hunsaker.

•The first new building on Moffat in more than 20 years opened in 2004 to house Honest Automotive.

•A new California Welding building on Moffat near Woodward and the tearing down of the old welding firm’s structure and an adjoining nightclub that had become blighted.

•A security/safety fence installed between the tracks and the Tidewater Bikeway by Union Pacific Railroad.

Among the municipal investments:

•The Spreckels Park BMX Park.

•Extending Industrial Park Drive across the railroad tracks to Moffat where it intersects with Spreckels Avenue.

•A landscaped storm basin complete with trees.

•More than 250 trees planted along the Tidewater Bikeway’s Moffat leg.

•A new water treatment plant.

•The installation of curbs, gutter, and sidewalk as correction of storm drain problems from Spreckels to Main plus repaving the street.

•Tidewater-style traffic signals at Spreckels/Industrial and Moffat.

Equally important are things that are no longer on Moffat.

•The old Moffat Feed Lot where market cattle were fed sugar beet pulp to produce the odor that hung Manteca with the moniker “Manstinka” for decades.

•Elimination of overnight truck parking on city property in the heart of the Moffat corridor, trucks, though, are now parking on the street and on the dirt between Woodward Avenue and Austin Road.

•A successful effort to stop illegal dumping on city property that parallels the Tidewater Bikeway.

•The razing and removal of several abandoned buildings and other structures gutted by fire.

And there is more in store.

•Oak Valley Community bank has indicated they are still planning to pursue a 6-story building to house regional business operations off of Moffat fronting the Highway 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange once the economy picks up enough steam.

•A private sector proposal to build a small business park after purchasing city owned land backing up to the Tidewater that was put on hold until the economy improves.

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