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Bored? That’s your problem and not the government’s

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POSTED October 14, 2017 1:26 a.m.

You’ve heard the whine: “There’s nothing to do in Manteca.”
You kind of expect that from a kid, but from adults?
Those six words more often than not are followed by a tirade directed at either the City Council or city government in general that they are not doing enough to essentially keep them entertained.
This might upset a few people but here goes: It is not government’s concern to keep you entertained.
In case you haven’t noticed they have a Herculean job funding and worrying about non-consequential things such as police and fire protection, streets, clean water, treating what you flush down the toilet, picking up garbage, getting rid of storm water and a host of other things that at least two thirds of the world’s population would never take for granted. Rest assured that two thirds of the world is more concerned about getting enough to eat and basic survival to worry much about getting bored.
The City of Manteca happens to have put in place a ton of things you can use for your entertainment — 70 parks, bike paths, a BMX course, library, baseball fields, skate park, tennis courts, swimming pool and even a golf course. That doesn’t mention dozens upon dozens of recreation programs from art to learning how to cook.
The city can, of course, encourage the development of private sector investment to provide more entertainment opportunities. About 15 years ago there was a rather large clamor over Manteca needing a skating rink. Petitions were signed and presented to the council. Impassioned speeches were given at public meetings. Promises were made that if the city helped someone open a skating rink it would be patronized.
It prompted one enterprising fellow to propose using the then shuttered Manteca Honda dealership that now houses an auto parts store diagonally across the street from Golden West School on North Main to open Manteca Skate.
There were a lot of shortcomings with the site. The city worked with the applicant and neighbors to make the skating rink possible.
The skating rink closed in less than a year.
So what happened? Based on complaints in letters to the Bulletin, comments to the City Council and general talk around town those who championed a skating rink in Manteca were disillusioned. They were not happy with the price. Sessions were $1 more than at a Modesto skating rink. It didn’t have enough bells and whistles. It was smaller than the Modesto rink. There was actually pressure applied to the City Council to somehow find a legal way to force the owners of Manteca Skate to lower their prices.
Forget the fact by the time you drive back and forth to Modesto the cost of a skating outing was roughly the same.
The incident illustrates you can never make whiners happy.
The most persistent “there’s nothing to do rant” has to do with a slightly different twist — dining out, or more precisely Manteca’s seemingly excessive number of fast food options and the lack of more variety of sit down restaurants. Some complain almost bitterly about having to drive out of town to eat.
The truth is restaurants tend to locate in communities where people are willing to spend money to eat out. They track quarterly sales tax numbers, spending patterns, and demographics of existing operations. Elected official can plea with them all they want, but it’s got to be profitable venture.
So if they see in those quarterly numbers show robust use of more traditional restaurants it increases the odds Manteca will be on their expansion list.
That doesn’t mention the fact there are more than 150 places in Manteca where you can get food and such prepared and served to you. Getting a bit out of your comfort zone or day-to-day patterns and you might see dining options in Manteca that you overlooked.
Your boredom is your problem.
If you’ve got that much time on your hands and don’t want to go to a park that generally is within a half mile or so of almost every home in Manteca, dine out in town, take in a movie, play organized sports, join a social/activity club, or borrow a book at the library then drive to Stockton, Modesto or the Bay Area. You can take buses if you don’t want to drive or take a train to the heart of San Jose to access such things as the tech museum. Better yet, help start something new in Manteca such as a community theatre group.
What did you say? That sounds like too much work? And/or you don’t want to spend that kind of money?
Hmm. Could it be the fact you can’t find anything to do have something to do with the fact you’re lazy or at least a whiner? As for it costing money, why do you think it is the burden of taxpayers who work to underwrite your entertainment?
Cities do that to a degree with parks, libraries and recreational facilities. If you can’t or won’t take advantage of those offerings to combat your boredom that’s your problem, not mine.
And I’m certainly not going to embrace government slapping folks with a boredom tax to finance ways to keep you entertained.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

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