Space was at a premium at the Manteca Civic Center in 1998.
Many members of the Vision 2020 Task Force — the citizens group the then City Council appointed to assist in drafting the current municipal general plan that is essentially a blueprint for growth — were stunned to see some of the working conditions of municipal staff especially Manteca Police officers.
Police were literally fighting for elbow space in their cramped offices while evidence overflow was crammed into outside storage areas. Detectives were relocated to a vacant county agricultural inspectors building on Moffat Boulevard due to the shortage of space.
The task force favored expanding the Civic Center complex at 1001 W. Center St. to accommodate staff and services needed to serve what they were told would be 30,000 more residents as Manteca was expected to reach a population of 77,000 in 2020.
Second master plan for
civic center completed
in 1986, 8 years after
complex was built
City staff, though, questioned whether all services could be accommodated on the existing site as envisioned when a master plan was adopted in 1986 for the site completed in 1978. That master plan called for the addition of a 15,000-square-foot auditorium onto the recreation rooms that had originally been designed as the first phase of a performing arts center.
A 10,000-square-foot community center for general recreation uses, hall rental and such also was proposed.
Seventeen years ago, city staff — after hiring a consultant — determined the site in Center Street needed at least two to three more acres to accommodate everything that elected officials eventually wanted built on the parcel to accommodate the services and needs of a community of 80,000.
In July of 2000, the City Council authorized staff to start preliminary work on a proposal that could essentially replace most existing structures at the Civic Center with larger two story buildings to handle growth for at least 30 years. The council, though, doubted that a performing arts center, community center or even a library as some suggested could be accommodated at the location.
The study finally completed in 2004 placed the price tag for the project at $34 million — $18 million for a criminal justice complex and $16 million to construct two-story city hall buildings.
Council in 2004 balked at cost of implementing 3rd civic center master plan
The council balked at the price tag and directed staff to research options for the cramped police operations. Staff returned with a plan to purchase and remodel the 57,000-square-foot former Qualex film processing plant on Manteca Industrial Park Drive. That would have provided more than triple the amount of space than at the current 17,000-square-fpopot police complex.
Manteca bought the Qualex building using redevelopment agency funds. As they were preparing the drawings to remodel the building state law changed regarding holding cells built as part of any new police station. It required departments to provide 24/7 jail staff. The new law change didn’t impact existing police stations. That meant a move to a large police facility would add $500,000 a year in additional manpower costs to staff the jail. Instead of making a move that would increase operating costs the city stepped back.
Then in 2010 budget cuts reduced the ranks of the sworn officers by 12 and eliminated other personnel as well. Overall the city trimmed over 80 employees from the municipal work force.
The pressing space need that existed in 1998 at the Manteca Police Department hasn’t gone away.
But neither new police facilities or a new city hall are part of the council adopted deferred capital improvement plan that consists of 18 projects including an aquatics center, library expansion, and performing arts complex with an overall cost of $102 million.
What the city has done
at Civic Center during
the past 20 years
The city has, though, added portable buildings to the Civic Center complex and has done interior remodeling to maximize space utilization and to improve community access such as for the one stop building permit process.
The council chambers have been modernized and brought up to current Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Public restrooms have been added for access during public meetings at the council chambers.
Secured parking was added at the police station and a new evidence building is under construction. A dog park has also been added to the civic center campus.
As for the Qualex building, the city is in the process of preparing to sell it to the highest bidder as part of the clean-up to the state ordered disbandment of redevelopment agencies.
While the Great Recession changed plans, nothing came of the 2004 Civic Center development plan — the second such time money as spent hiring a consultant for such a document. And because no final plan was even adopted, the city never developed a nexus — the legal justification on what new growth could be charged for community facilities as opposed to existing resident — that would allow the police to have new facilities. The current campus requires officers and staff to reach different parts of the police department by going out into covered breezeways and walking to other parts of the secured police facilities. There is no other police station like it in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
if the council in 2000 had adopted a plan and determined a $500 per home fee was justified, the city would have collected $5 million set aside for a new police headquarters based on the number of homes built in Manteca since 2000.
As for the population projection, the consultants were slightly off. Manteca is expected to hit 77,000 residents by 2018 and not by 2020. Manteca is now on pace to have 80,000 residents in three years. The current city population is 76,000.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail email@example.com