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City manager: Waterpark deal possible in 2 months
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Manteca City Manager Elena Reyes is optimistic that a deal will be reached within the next few months for an operator of a 500-room hotel and indoor waterpark/conference center being pursued by McWhinney Development on 60 acres owned by the city along the 120 Bypass and west of Costco.
Reyes volunteered the upbeat outlook for a waterpark deal during a talk Thursday before the Manteca Rotary Club at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room.
So how long has Great Wolf — or more precisely a water park resort hotel — been pursued by the City of Manteca?
It’s going on six years.
When now departed City Manager Karen McLaughlin was cleaning out her desk one item she left behind was a wrist band that had been cut in two.
It was left there by her predecessor Steve Pinkerton. He put it on his wrist to stay focused on securing the resort after touring a Great Wolf after the firm approached the city about possibly locating on municipal property in Manteca. He cut it off after taking a job as the city manager of Davis and gave it to McLaughlin.
The city is still working on the waterpark resort project although sources indicate that odds of it being Great Wolf are slim.
In comparison it took seven years from the time Manteca first started talking with Big League Dreams to the first dirt being turned for the sports complex.
The big differences were money spent and the fight over the original location proposed at Woodward Park. That’s not to mention the City of Lathrop suing Manteca contending BLD and the Stadium Retail Center would significantly impact traffic at the Interstate 5 and Louise Avenue interchange some 2.5 miles away via surface streets. The only impacts BLD has ended up having on Lathrop is to help fill that city’s hotel rooms on weekends.
Manteca spent $250,000 on an independent financial expert to run a fine tooth comb through the BLD and not much more than that. So far on the waterpark and family entertainment zone, consulting fees that the city covered are in excess of $200,000 plus the $12 million work on infrastructure that is now getting underway with no signatures yet on a deal.

Working toward
solution to Bypass
& 99 concerns
Caltrans and the San Joaquin Council of Governments are moving forward with the endless advance work needed to get a project such as the proposed capacity and upgrades for the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange off the ground.
Mayor Steve DeBrum — who has vowed to stay on top of the 120 Bypass even though the ball is completely in the state’s court — reported at Tuesday’s City Council meeting the efforts to date on what is arguably the most pressing freeway safety concern in the region.
DeBrum said SJCOG and Caltrans staff are currently working on collecting data on all roads that are impacted by traffic going through or avoiding the interchange. He’s been told to expect the first public workshops on the project to pop up around March 0f 2017.
 Two alternates are being considered for the long-term improvement with the goal of starting work in the summer of 2021.
The first could cost as much as $40 million. It would widen the connector to southbound 99 to two lanes, construct braided ramps (that are physically separated from freeway lanes) at the Austin Road interchange and replace the Austin Road crossing to provide and additional southbound 99 through lane. In some instances braided ramps require constructing bridge structures to send traffic above other lanes.
The second would cost upwards of $29 million would widen the connector to two lanes, permanently close Austin Road on and off ramps and replace the Austin Road overcrossing to provide an additional southbound 99 through lane.
The long-term project is proposed for funding with help from Measure K sales tax and savings from the Proposition 1B projects for Highway 99 improvements through the Central Valley as well as federal money. The funding has not been confirmed.

SJ Supervisor
tours Manteca
school campuses
Here’s a first: When was the last time a San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors member toured Manteca Unified campuses to get a handle on education efforts?
Board chairman Moses Zapien asked to do just that. On Thursday Zapien was touring several district campuses — including Sierra High — with District Superintendent Jason Messer.
Zapien was impressed with how students were doing complex chemistry assignments while making effective use of tablets. Zapien has made increasing the level of education as a cornerstone of his efforts to improve the San Joaquin County.
Zapien represents Manteca north of Yosemite Avenue, Lathrop, the Delta and northwest Stockton.