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Manteca exploring corporation yard expansion
Deputy Public Works Director Jim Stone, left, and Fleet Supervisor Bob Moulden in the horse barn that was acquired in 1932 to serve as the vehicle maintenance building. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
High winds don’t bode too well for the men who keep the City of Manteca’s 425 vehicles, trailers, and other equipment in shape.

They can be strong enough to push in the entrance to the 1910-era horse barn on Wetmore Street that has served as the city’s main vehicle maintenance building since it was acquired in 1932. The solution several years ago to stop the building from crumbling was to put in place new cedar cross-beams to reinforce the old growth redwood used to keep the corrugated metal walls and ceiling in place.

That is far from the only shortcoming of the building. The lack of room and adequate clearance means mechanics work on the city’s fleet of 20 garbage trucks that cost right around $300,000 apiece while they sit partially in the elements. Some netting attached to an add-on car-port style roof helps keep some of the moisture off engines when they are open during inclement weather.

It doesn’t take a very long tour of the vehicle maintenance complex to understand why a replacement building is high on the city’s must do list. Toss in the fact various departments are all over Manteca – solid waste is across the street, most of the water department is at the original corporation yard on Oak Street, building maintenance is in the old fire station on Center Street, and the water well division is behind the Powers Avenue fire station.

The city also lacks efficiency in purchasing and supply storage as they are scattered to the four corners of municipal facilities.

It is for all of those reasons and more that Deputy Director of Public Works Jim Stone has been charged with coming up with a plan to purchase necessary land to centralize and expand corporation yard functions along Wetmore Street and put in place several new buildings.
The timing, according to Stone, couldn’t be much better. The cost of new steel buildings – the type used for corporation yards – has plummeted. The city has already quietly made inquires with adjoining property owners who may be interested in selling.

The financing for the land and new buildings won’t come from the general fund. Growth’s share is expected to be taken from $2.1 million sitting in the government facilities account that was collected for the sole purpose of building needed municipal facilities. The water account will cover the cost of its share of a new corporation yard. The cost has already been factored into the existing water rates. No general fund money will be used. It is the general fund that is entering deficit spending next year. Growth fees as well as fees collected for specific proposes such as running the water operations can’t legally be used for any other purposes even in a financial emergency.

Stone said the plan is to take full advantage of the drop in construction prices and move as quickly a possible.

“We don’t want this to drag out like what has happened with other projects like Big League Dreams,” Stone said.

Stone said he would like to see things move to construction within a two-year period.

In order to do that, Stone is putting together a complete package updating the cost analysis on the original 1989 plan regarding the corporation yard put together by a consultant.

There are people who the city should build a new facility at the wastewater treatment plant but Stone pointed out it would require putting in water and sewer services plus everything else from scratch.

Savings that happen by expanding on Wetmore
Although it isn’t perfect, Stone said having the corporation yard straddle Wetmore Street not only provides an economy of using existing facilities and adding to them but it keeps them centrally located.

There are also a number of facilities that are expensive – such as lifts - that can remain in place when a new building is erected around them.

The city also is keeping the elevated water tank in place to save $150,000. The city decided to skip a seismic retrofit that would have cost in excess of $500,000 to continue using the tank especially since water tanks put in place in connection with the surface water treatment plant have helped improve water pressure as have replacement lines.

It would cost $75,000 to tear the tower down and $75,000 to replace it with a tower for communication antenna vital for emergency services and city crews. So the city simply emptied the tank and kept it in place.

The animal shelter could ultimately be relocated or else it could be expanded where it is now located.

Stone said the city is exploring the employment of new technologies to make the corporation yard expansion as efficient as possible. One idea being bounced around is to create a large car-port style structure to keep the elements off vehicles and to place solar panels on top to generate electricity.

The city has simply made do with available facilities over the years as Manteca has grown. Fleet Superintendent Bob Moulden, who has been with the city for seven years, has seen the vehicles and equipment pieces expand from 380 to 425.

It has forced some creative use of space including improvising parts supply cages in areas that were designed for vehicles to be worked on.

The city also has some surplus property they could sell to raise money to cover part of the tab of a corporation yard expansion program. They include the former Center Street fire station, a residential lot that was deeded to the city for a water well which is no longer needed, and the Oak Street corporation yard.