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$10.4M project precursor to resort proposal
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A contract for infrastructure that could set the stage for recycled wastewater use in Manteca as well as open up nearly 120 acres for a waterpark resort and family entertainment zone could be awarded Tuesday night by the Manteca City Council.
And the chances are the decision will spark an exchange between the low bidder — Knife River Constriction of Stockton — and city officials.
Knife River submitted the lowest bid of $10,472,820 among six firms vying for the contract.
Four days after the bids were opened on May 2, Knife River asked that they be allowed to withdraw their bid noting “we have identified errors in the preparation of our bid.”
 The city’s attorney office, however, is advising the council to reject the request by Knife River and award the contract when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
The five other bids were all at least $2.9 million higher. They ranged from $13,309,550 from Monzingo Construction of Oakdale to $15,631,000 from Sierra Mountain Construction of Sonora.
The work involves infrastructure on 210 acres the city owns between Costco and Big League Dreams, the 120 Bypass, McKinley Avenue, and the wastewater treatment plant. The overall area is being developed as Manteca’s Family Entertainment Zone that includes an indoor water park resort.
The work includes:
uextending a 48-inch gravity sewer main from the south side of the 120 Bypass to the wastewater treatment plant.
uconstructing an 18-inch portable waterline from the south side of the 120 Bypass to an existing line in Daniels Street.
uplacing a 54-inch storm drainage pipe from a South San Joaquin Irrigation District  drain north of the 120 Bypass to another drain’s terminus at Daniels Street and connecting the  Stadium Retail Center’s storm drain basin where the water fountain is located along the 120 Bypass to the new line.
uinstalling an 18-inch reclaimed water pipeline from the wastewater treatment plant to the existing sewer forced main line south of the 120 Bypass. This will allow the city — once the remaining segment of the gravity sewer line on Woodward Avenue is installed — to abandon the forced line and convert it to a gravity flowing delivery system for recycled wastewater to parks and school sites south of the 120 Bypass as well as for common area landscaping in new projects such as the 1,400 plus home Trains at Manteca.
uconstructing an 8-foot wide and 4-foot high box culvert to underground a portion of the French Camp Outlet Canal. The city rejected a request by SSJID to make it 10 feet wide saying the additional cost wasn’t necessary arguing hydraulic analysis indicate the larger version wasn’t  needed.
Adding a 10 percent set aside for contingency the overall cost is $11.5 million for the project.
The work is the first phase of the South Area Regional Infrastructure Improvement Project. It has a budget of $21,081,173 that is funded by a large chunk of the city’s remaining redevelopment agency bond sale.
Other projects that could be built with the $21 million include extending Daniels Street to McKinley Avenue and connecting Milo Candini Drive with West Yosemite Avenue.
Overall the city has roughly $40 million left to spend from the sale of RDA bonds that has been earmarked for specific projects.
While $21 million is set aside for southwest Manteca economic development and community parks that is essentially the Family Entertainment Zone project and an indoor waterpark resort, the balance has been committed to undertakings such as the upgrading of the Union Road interchange on the 120 Bypass and additional subsidized senior housing on Cottage Avenue and the Highway 99 overcrossing.
The money can only be used for projects that the bonds were sold for to investors.
It doesn’t preclude the city from shifting money from one project to another on the approved list. It is why if the infrastructure costs are higher than anticipated, Milo Candini Drive may not be extended from the Big League Dreams sports complex to Yosemite Avenue as noted among the southwest Manteca economic development projects.

Other players in
water park mix
McWhinney — the firm working with Manteca to develop a water park resort — originally had Great Wolf Resorts lined up to operate the 500-room hotel and accompanying amenities.
In September a new chief executive officer took over Great Wolf just as the environmental impact report was being adopted by the Manteca City Council. The new CEO told McWhinney that he wanted to do his own “due diligence” and vet possible Bay Area sites. McWhinney, which is partnering with Great Wolf on a similar project in Garden Grove near Disneyland wasn’t about to put the Manteca resort on hold while Great Wolf spent months or even longer searching for a possible Bay Area location and doing market and feasibility study to compare it to the 120 Bypass location.
McWhinney was contacted almost immediately by other indoor waterpark resort firms based in Wisconsin where Great Wolf also got its start. The lure of the Manteca location included the extensive market work Great Wolf had already done in conjunction with McWhinney, the fact the land was tied up and appropriately zoned, the environmental review process that takes between two to four years for such a project in California was completed, and the fact infrastructure would be in place to accommodate a major undertaking.
And while the negotiations don’t preclude the possibility Great Wolf will be the ultimate operator, at McWhinney’s request the city has reconfigured the 210 acres in the family entertainment zone to put aside 60 acres instead of 30 acres for a destination resort.
Several of the Wisconsin operators McWhinney has been talking with have much more attractions than Great Wolf including miniature golf courses, larger indoor and outdoor water slides, bowling alleys, laser tag, climbing walls, and many components that the FEZ is seeking.
Unlike Great Wolf that wanted a 99-year lease for the 30 acres owned by the city, the leading candidate to operate the resort wants to have a deal structured where the land is sold by the city.
Also, unlike Great Wolf, the other potential operator wouldn’t limit waterpark access just to hotel guests. Great Wolf only wanted to have limited access for locals that didn’t book a hotel room for about six times during the course of a year.
That didn’t sit too well with some Manteca residents that didn’t like the idea of the city being involved with a commercial venture they essentially couldn’t access unless they booked a hotel room in their hometown.