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City replacing Model-T era garage
New vehicle maintenance building going up on S. Main
Workers prep the ground for laying the foundation of the new City of Manteca vehicle maintenance facility being built at South Main and Wetmore streets directly across from the new animal shelter. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The new City of Manteca vehicle maintenance facility that is being built on the southeast corner of South Main and Wetmore streets employs a simple and functional design.

The two-tone steel proletarian structure won’t win any architectural contests. Compared, however, to the existing vehicle maintenance building it’s a virtual Taj Mahl.

It also oozes with functionality when compared with the existing wood and corrugated metal facility built when Model T Fords were all the rage. The current vehicle maintenance building that’s pushing 90 years old and is located just across the street.

The existing facility has two access doors for vehicles. The new building will have 10. That in its self will reduce costs by eliminating time consuming movements of vehicles. Currently vehicles have to be constantly  moved due to limited access and “stacked” work areas.

The doors will also accommodate all of Manteca’s larger vehicles including garbage trucks that can run over $200,000. Currently garbage trucks and fire engines that can cost $300,000 are worked on under a makeshift canopy that still exposes the vehicle to the elements as it is being serviced.

The new building will have a design emulating modern-day service centers where parts, equipment, and access are all coordinated. The converted former South San Joaquin Irrigation District building that was once reportedly used as a horse barn has been repeatedly modified inside in Winchester House fashion to accommodate basic work as well as more sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

Crews last week were prepping the ground so the foundation can be poured. The building is expected to be ready for use sometime this spring.

The revamping of the corporation yard operations saddling Wetmore Street on the northern edge of the Manteca Industrial Park is a multiple phase effort. The goal is to consolidate public works operations housed throughout the city into one location to gain scales of sofa efficiency. It is also to make sure there is adequate space to accommodate population demand for at least 20 years of growth.

The strategy is to reduce general fund operating costs by at least $600,000 a year.

The first phase involved building the new animal shelter and making street improvements. The next phase will raze the old animal shelter and built a centralize corporation office for the water department.

The overall $12.1 million price tag is being covered by development fees that cannot be used for day-to-day operations. The city had money on hand for the $2.1 million animal facility and part of the $4.7 million vehicle maintenance facility. Loans from the public facilities fee account and  redevelopment agency loan that will be paid back with interest as growth fees come are bridging  the financing. It will take five to seven years to repay the loans at the current home construction pace. Increased construction will accelerate payback.

Also, the future sale of the old fire station on center Street and the water department facility on Oak Street is expected to raise $1 million toward paying for the renovation.

Ultimately $10,850,000 will come from government building facilities fees collected on new growth as well as $490,000 in public facility fees paid by developers. The water division will pay $434,000, solid waste $213,000, and sewer $13,000 for the portion of the improvements helping those enterprise operations.

City leaders have said annual savings came from eliminating a vacant superintendent position and one vacant administrative support position and reducing growth in future administrative staff as the move would eliminate duplicate functions due to the far-flung corporation yard system. That will save $250,000 a year.

Reduced facility costs such as electricity, Internet, alarms copies, and printers would save $20,000 a year.

Centralized purchasing and warehousing, pooling common equipment, and reducing the time employees have to drive around Manteca to pick up equipment and then return it for work they need to do would save $350,000 a year. The water department, as an example, is split between multiple locations including the Powers Avenue fire station.