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Homeless: Death knell for plaza
It was taken over as homeless encampment for past 3 years
The Spreckels Park Historical Plaza that had been commandeered by the homeless as an encampment has been fenced off and eventually will be repurposed. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

It was over the top — literally.
Just days after Manteca Development Group fenced off the Spreckels Park Historical Plaza and screened off a nearby trash enclosure maintenance crews found a homeless man camping out. But instead of jumping the fence to reach the plaza designed as a tribute to Spreckels Sugar, he hauled a mattress atop the fencing that had been placed across the unused trash enclosure behind Applebee’s that had long been a popular stopping place for transients.
The man refused to climb down and leave prompting maintenance crews to call Manteca Police.
The incident earlier this month reaffirmed for Filios that he had made the right decision.
After three years of spending thousands of dollars replacing copper irrigation wiring that had been repeatedly ripped out, replacing damaged sprinkler heads and irrigation controls, cleaning up human waste and other trash, replacing damaged shrubs and constantly removing graffiti Manteca Development Group has decided to repurpose the site.
The firm intends to continue maintaining the plaza and not tear it down until their secure a user that wants to build either and office, store or possible a small dining spot.
“We don’t want to create an eyesore,” Filios said.
That also is the reason why the partnership fenced off the plaza they built for $250,000 complete with four upturned culvert pipes designed to replace the 15-story Spreckels Sugar silos and then maintained on their own dime for the last 12 years.
“We can’t have a homeless encampment in the middle of a retail center,” Filios said of the plaza the homeless commandeered behind the Chevron station in the Spreckels Park project that rose from the ruins of the 362-acre Spreckels Sugar plant site.
The plaza that used bricks from the original sugar plant warehouse was the development firm’s way of honoring the impact Spreckels Sugar and its workers had on the community. At one point they had a deal in the works for an office building adjoining the plaza that would have displayed Spreckels Sugar artifacts that had been saved. The recession hit before the project could move to construction.
Filios said his firm fields complaints almost daily about the homeless from Spreckels Park firms such as Applebee’s and the Holiday Inn Express.
He noted it was “becoming more and more difficult” to keep the homeless from camping on private property within Spreckels Park. He said the firm’s crews routinely chasse the homes away from the base of the large sign along Highway 99 and numerous other locations with the business spark and retail center.
Filios had nothing but praise for the city and police department.
“They have done a good job responding,” Filios said. “It’s just getting out of control.”
Filios believes eliminate in the park-like plaza will go a long way toward solving the problem.
Previous efforts that included cutting back shrubbery behind the Chevron station didn’t seem to help.
On Friday, there were two vehicles parked near the fenced over trash enclosure jammed with belongings and two individuals that said they were homeless that were milling nearby.
Three drives through Spreckels Park at various times of the day and night this past week found the homeless sleeping or camping behind Home Depot, near the Highway 99 sign, behind the monument signs on both sides of Spreckels Avenue at Moffat Boulevard, in an empty field next to J&M Equipment, and on the backside of the Food-4-Less shopping center. The windshield survey did not include any homeless that may have been camping in the Caltrans right of way along the Highway 99 and 120 Bypass that Spreckels Park borders.
The homeless for a while had been camping in front of stores and banks in the Food-4-Less shopping center setting up as sundown approached.
The trash enclosure that Manteca Development Group fenced off almost always had homeless sleeping in it when people after getting gas at the nearby Chevron between midnight and 2 a.m. would drive past ibn working their way to head south on Spreckels Avenue.
Several times individuals were found actually sleeping in the driving lanes.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email