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Library Park celebrates baseball
Expansion includes baseball history plaza, 5 murals
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Workers erect a wall on Thursday that will be graced with five large murals as part of the Library Park expansion. - photo by HIME ROMERO

GOT PHOTOS?

If you have photos of baseball teams that played at Library Park the city would like to borrow them to help immortalize the images in tile. Contact Parks Operations/Landscape Maintenance District Manager Kevin Fant by e-mailing kfant@ci.manteca.ca.us or call 456-8639.

Manteca is tearing up the proverbial parking lot and restoring paradise.

Crews have already ripped out a closed segment of Poplar Avenue and are installing a masonry wall as the first part of an $894,000 project that will double Library Park in size and transform it into a true community gathering spot. The street will be replaced by grass, sidewalks and other features.

The masonry wall - which will separate the revamped Verizon parking lot from the expanded park - is being designed to accommodate five murals.

The biggest mural at 105-feet long by 8 feet high faces the Tidewater Bike Path and an area that will feature a baseball history plaza. Before Library Park was a park it served as the community baseball field where the likes of Milo Candini - the first Mantecan to play in the major leagues - pitched.

The baseball history plaza will contain three benches with the seating surface consisting of custom tiles the city hopes to have images of old photographs of teams and games at the baseball field etched into them. Anyone who may have such photographs are being asked to let the city borrow them by contacting parks operations/landscape maintenance district manager Kevin Fant at kfant@ci.manteca.ca.us or by calling 456-8639.

A new gazebo will also go along the Tidewater just west of the interactive water play feature that was installed two years ago. It will include amphitheatre-style seating for about 80 people with additional seating on the grass.

Where the current gazebo stage is now located a bocce ball court and additional open space will be created.

Along the eastern masonry wall seating Verizon from Library Park will be the “Mural Walk” complete with four 35-foot by 8-foot-murals separated by landscaping. Those murals will cover four subject areas - the Yokuts Indians, Manteca pioneers, Manteca industry, and Manteca agriculture.

The Manteca Mural Society will commission all five murals while one or more may be part of the annual Mural in a Weekend undertaking.

Additional children’s playground equipment will be added plus additional “box car” benches that play off the water feature’s theme plus 12 new round picnic tables.

Work is expected to be completed by September.

Funding is from three sources - redevelopment agency funds, park fees paid by new growth, and federal Community Development Grant Block funds since the park serves nearby low-income neighborhoods as well as doubling a as community plaza.

The city has pumped more than $2 million into the park over the past eight years including the water feature, the land swap and utility relocation that allowed the park to double to 1.33 acres, restrooms, and the playground equipment and lighting.

It brings the total the city has invested into downtown in the last decade to over $5 million once the Tidewater-style street lights, benches, traffic signals, and Maple Avenue Plaza and the Legion Hall Plaza are taken into account.

The design of the park and the elements included was the result of several years of input from the neighborhood, downtown merchants, and the community at large.

Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin said the restrooms and existing playground will remain accessible throughout the construction period.