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Beautifying 120 Bypass with homeless encampments
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Just a stone’s throw – actually not even that — from Manteca’s most expensive rental address is a rather large homeless encampment between Paseo Villas and the eastbound lanes of the 120 Bypass.
Literally less than 100 yards from makeshift tents and debris piles along with feces and such are “luxury apartments” that start at $1,141 for a 727-square-foot one bedroom unit.
The encampment may not be in place for long. Caltrans crews Thursday morning where busy tearing down and hauling out truckloads of debris from an illegal encampment in a cluster of trees and shrubs in state right-of-way along the  eastbound off-ramp of the 120 Bypass at Main Street.
Freeway interchanges and overcrossing as well as gullies between elevated freeway lanes and sound walls are a big and growing problem in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
And just like with the encampment on the northeast corner of the Louise Avenue overcrossing of Highway 99 they keep coming back after they are cleared out by the city or Caltrans making use of those that have to do community service for infractions of the law.
Making the entire thing ironic is the fact $1 million plus in so-called “Obama Bucks” — the federal stimulus funds doled out as the Great Recession dragged on — was snagged by the City of Manteca working with the San Joaquin Council of Governments to beautify both the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors through Manteca.
The funds could only be used for highway beautification projects. In retrospect maybe planting shrubs and such that could one day be used as the foundation for homeless encampments wasn’t such a great idea.
It kind of makes you pine for the good old days when dried weeds were the ugliest scar along Manteca’s freeways instead of homeless encampments complete with truckloads of debris.
Eventually as the drought resistant trees and shrubs got a firm footing and started periods of rapid growth, the theory was it would reduce the number of wildfires along the 120 Bypass. Now the biggest health and safety concerns are human feces littering the freeway right-of-way not to mention the homeless are an accident away from serious injury or death should a high-speed collision leave the pavement.

No choice but
to bury ice cream
What do you do with 40 cubic yards of outdated gourmet ice cream?
That’s just one of the challenges Rexie LeStrange deals with overseeing the City of Manteca’s Solid Waste Division.
About three times a year Dryer’s Ice Cream — which operates a refrigerated warehouse/distribution center in Manteca’s Spreckels Park — fills a 40 cubic yard bin with ice cream that has passed its expiration date.
LeStrange noted the ice cream qualifies as food waste and therefore under new state rues coming down the pike, should not be landfilled. The problem is long before it reaches any process where it can be recycled as organic material it becomes a liquid mess.
The only solution is asking the state for an exemption allowing the ice cream — or what is left of it — to be landfilled.
The city works closely with all sorts of businesses to make sue items are recycled whether it is cardboard from stores or wood waste from construction sites.

Spreckels Park:
The ultimate
green project
for recycling
While we’re on the subject of recycling, nothing in Manteca has approached the level of meeting sustainable goals than the development of Spreckels Park.
Spreckels Sugar closed 20 years ago. Within five years, the partnership forged by Mike Atherton, Bill Filios, and Bing Kirk had cleared the site of the sugar plant and enough lime generated from the sugar beet process to meet the needs of San Joaquin County farmers for at least 75 years.
The factory bricks were reused with most going to builders although some remain in Manteca as a part of the Spreckels Park monument signs and as part of the entrance to the former El Rey Theatre in downtown Manteca when it was reopened as Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. & Brick Oven Restaurant.
The steel was recycled and sold. The lime and scrap dirt was reworked it the 362-acre site.
The clean concrete was used on site and as base when Highway 99 between Manteca and Ripon was widened to six lanes.
Atherton refers to the stretch of Highway 99 “as the sweetest freeway around” since the base was crushed concrete from the Spreckels Sugar factory.
The concrete from the four 15-story silos was more problematic as the inside was lined with plywood. After the implosion the plywood and concrete were all mixed
“Because there was organic material mixed in with the concrete it couldn’t be used for road base because it would deteriorate,” Filios recalled. “It was taken by people who needed it for farm roads.”
Overall, nearly 98 percent of the sugar refinery, warehouse, and silos were recycled.