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Game changers: Proposed Manteca High, transit center parking area expansions

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Proposals that could drastically change Manteca High, the Moffat Boulevard corridor and even downtown includes (1-blue) the possible purchase of the Inn by the Station and a former trailer park sit...

Bulletin graphic/Francisco Toledo/

POSTED March 3, 2018 1:04 a.m.

Manteca’s biggest urban renewal project since the conversion of a shuttered sugar beet refinery into the economic juggernaut known as Spreckels Park is one that you aren’t hearing much about.
That’s because elected leaders on both the City Council and Manteca Unified boards along with their respective staffs are doing their due diligence and adhering to laws about what they can and cannot say regarding negotiations for property.
The district is quietly looking at buying five parcels along Moffat Boulevard as well as Sherman Avenue and the city two parcels.
The implications are enormous.
Should the two entities follow through, purchase the properties either through negotiations or eminent domain:
uManteca High will be able to expand to 2,200 students to allow the district to cost effectively handle growth on the high school level from a major housing boom south of the 120 Bypass without having to resort to other alternatives such as year round school of double sessions when an anticipated crush of students hit.
uSecurity at Manteca High will be significantly increased with the elimination of troublesome residency hotels abutting the campus where police routinely serve felony warrants and address other criminal activity. The plan also would entail the partial closure of two streets — a segment of Garfield Avenue closing 24/7 to public traffic starting Monday and a segment of Sherman Avenue.
uManteca High could be re-orientated to Moffat Boulevard to further strengthen campus security and reduce traffic congestion before and after school on Yosemite Avenue.
uThe city would be able to expand the Manteca Transit Center parking to prepare for the arrival of Altamont Corridor Express passenger service to the station by 2023 when a projected 1,500 riders will start boarding trains in downtown Manteca headed to San Jose.
uDepending where a new large gym is placed as part of a $40 million modernization, health and safety upgrades, and growth undertaking at Manteca High, the district could piggyback on the expanded transit center parking for evening events at the gym such as basketball games.

Ultimately moves should
make private sector
investment more likely
Several byproducts of the endeavor could also occur.
uThe transit center with regular train service along with the elimination of problematic property would make the nine block area bounded by Moffat, Grant, Yosemite, and Sherman more appealing for the private sector to purchase property — a lot of them are rentals — and repurpose them into a larger parcel for a transit village type of development practically at the heart of downtown. There is already a large vacant parcel across the street from the transit center to the west of South Grant Avenue where the Manteca Bean Co. once stood.
uManteca High could be positioned as an additional or new location for the district’s adult school and continuing education offered through entities such Delta College as it would be a short walk away from a true multi-modal transit center with San Joaquin Transit bus service, Manteca Transit bus service, and ACE service.
Both the council and school board have held closed door sessions to discuss acquiring the properties in question.
The last Manteca Unified board discussion was on Feb. 13.
The five parcels include the Inn at the Station formerly known as the Rose Motel, the Pacific Motel, and the site of a problematic trailer park the state closed down several years ago. Based on 2017 tax roll information, the five properties have an assessed value in excess of $2.2 million for tax purpose and encompass more than 2.2 acres altogether.
The school district years ago bought several properties as they became available that bordered the student parking lot including a small hotel on the northeast corner of Sherman Avenue and Moffat Boulevard.
The city is looking at the site of the Manteca Recycling Center that is now permanently closed and a former service station to the south where the gas pump canopy is still in place.
Depending upon what the school board decides on for a Manteca High campus plan to situate the 98-year-old campus so it can effectively educate up to 2,200 students will determine whether all of the property the district is looking at or just part of it is needed to make the plan work.
Garfield Avenue between Mikesell Avenue and the entrance to the student parking lot just north of Moffat Boulevard has been subject to temporary closure when school is in session and during school events since 2010.
The city is allowing the street to be closed to public traffic for good starting Monday to allow the district to take steps to secure the campus given the segment of Garfield in question slices through the campus allowing pedestrians to pass through at any time. In the coming months the school district will be given control with the proviso easements must be maintained for buried city utilities.
That would allow the school district as part of their campus makeover to tear out the street if they needed to do so although they couldn’t place any buildings over the easement.

School district could
seek closure of segment
of Sherman Avenue
The district, should they buy property west of Sherman Avenue, could ask the city to deed over Sherman from a point  where the last piece of private property would then be three houses south of Mikesell Street on the west side of the campus to Moffat Boulevard.
It would provide the district with a working area to rethink Manteca’s High footprint from Powers Avenue all the way to Grant Avenue. That’s because the fields where Manteca Little League plays are part of the adjoining Lincoln School campus that abuts with Manteca High.
With everything being looked at that area could be included in design and even traffic flow considerations for the high school as everything from shared fields with Lincoln School to even a bus drop off zone along Powers Avenue should the district determine that is the best option.
Part of the work being done to prep for the development of alternatives for the Manteca High campus is a traffic study that will include the best and safest place to put a bus loading and unloading zone.
The mega-campus approach when Manteca High and Lincoln School are looked at together and potential partnerships with the city are considered could be significant. Not only would expanded transit center parking be across the street that the school could utilize for after school events when commuters aren’t parking there, but both Lincoln School and Manteca High border Lincoln Community Park. The high school already makes use of the city’s lighted baseball field for junior varsity baseball games.
The city has a 50-year-old plus swimming pool at Lincoln Park that they eventually will have to modernize or replace. The district also faces a similar issue with its own swimming pool. The two agencies could combine their efforts to save construction money and even maintenance costs since the city and school use swimming pools at completely different times on the calendar.
Further enhancing the appeal of a mega-campus, especially for residents south of the 120 Bypass, is the school board decision to add additional classroom wings at Lincoln School as its first move to accommodate elementary enrollment growth.
That means a family could have school-aged children from kindergarten through 12th grade attend adjoining campuses.
The school board will decide on a blueprint for Manteca High’s future in the coming months to allow work on modernization to start in December.
By making Moffat a much more used street with a fully functioning transit center and Manteca High orientated toward Moffat, it will enhance the appeal of the corridor to further private sector investment as it would likely become the third heaviest traveled corridor leading into the downtown district.
Caltrans plans to reconfigure the Austin Road interchange at the same time as the 120/99 Bypass interchange, calls for Moffat Boulevard to swing to the  west and then jog to the south to connect with a new alignment of Austin Road. That means those buying future homes in southeast Manteca would have a nearly direct route to downtown by accessing Moffat at Austin Road or at the Industrial Park Drive crossing. The existing Woodward Avenue crossing would be closed.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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