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56 parks: From sports complex to greenbelt
TIDEWATER1 9-13-12
A jogger uses the Tidewater Bikeway. - photo by HIME ROEMRO/The 209

Manteca’s 56 parks run the gamut from the 30-acre Big League Dreams sports complex with six replica Major league baseball fields plus an indoor soccer arena to the 3.7-mile greenbelt park known as the Tidewater that serves as the backbone of a citywide separated bike path system.

The city’s 18-hole golf course is still tops in the northern San Joaquin Valley region with rounds played. Adjoining the golf course is the San Joaquin Valley Tennis Academy. The city also has a BMX course that draws riders from throughout Northern California as well as a skate park.

The bulk of the remaining parks are neighborhood affairs situated with the goal of being within a half mile walking distance of all residents. Three parks are community parks — Northgate with its three softball fields, Lincoln Park with the community swimming pool and youth baseball fields including a recently renovated lighted field, and Woodward Park.

At 52 acres, Woodward Park is the largest in Manteca. It has eight soccer fields including six with lighting. All three parks have community picnic areas as well as expanded playground equipment.

Manteca’s three most high profile parks include:

1.Big  League Dreams

The 30-acre complex built by the city is operated and maintained by Big League Dreams under a 35-year contract.

Since it opened over five years ago, the complex has had at least one if not two regional softball tournaments every weekend including during holidays. League play Monday through Thursday features hundreds of teams with many having players from as far away as San Jose and Sacramento.

The six replica Major league Baseball fields are a draw as is the stadium-style seating. There are two restaurants complete with seating overlooking baseball diamonds.

The indoor soccer arena is booked solid with many leagues playing as late as midnight.

The complex also has batting cages, an extensive playground area complete with rubber ground cover, and 500-plus parking spaces.

The gate secured complex is located just off the 120 Bypass at Airport Way.

More than 420,000 paying fans pass through the gate each year. They receive most of the admission back in the form of tokens good for use at the restaurants/snack bars.

2.Library Park.

Library Park functions as a neighborhood park and a downtown plaza. The city recently expanded the park by tearing out a street and buying expanded property.

It includes an interactive water play feature, a 75-seat amphitheater facing a gazebo stage, two sets of playground equipment and six murals. Located adjacent to the Manteca Library, it often serves as the heart for downtown festivals such as the Pumpkin Fair and is home to the summer farmer’s market.

Library Park is also on the Tidewater Bikeway that connects to various neighbors including access directly to Northgate Community Park, the Spreckels BMX track, and the skate park.

Making the Library Park more pleasant are stately sycamore trees that shade most of the park.

3.Tidewater Bikeway

The 3.7-mile Tidewater Bike is the backbone of the city’s separated bike path system. Unlike many bike trails, it connects neighborhoods with downtown as well as employment centers.

The bike way is also a 37-acre greenbelt with many sections converted into urban forests. The former Tidewater Southern Railway right-of-way that used to run from Stockton to Hilmar in its heyday was purchased by the city with the expressed purpose of creating a separate bike path that encircles the city and gives direct access to major recreation, retail, and employment centers. Altogether, the city has more than seven miles of the bikeway system in place.