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Library Park expansion dedication set for Monday
Salvador Munoz of Suarez & Munoz Construction looks over the baseball-related etchings in the granite benches near the new gazebo at Library Park. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca is going to celebrate a rare occurrence Monday - the tearing up of a street to create a park.

Dedication ceremonies are taking place at 11 a.m. Monday to mark the completion of the expansion of Library Park that involved ripping out a portion of Poplar Avenue and replacing most of it with sod.

The $894,000 project doubled Library Park in size with the intent to transform it into a true community gathering spot.

The project included:

• Removing the previous gazebo and replacing it with a larger 28-foot wide gazebo that is closer to the Tidewater beneath towering sycamore trees. It includes a combination concrete and grass amphitheatre-style seating for about 75 people.

• Converting a portion of Poplar Avenue as well as part of the existing Verizon back parking lot with sod and trees to expand Library Park to create an open area for events and leisure time activities such as playing Frisbee.

• The creation of a baseball plaza with commemorative tiles and seats where the old gazebo was located.

• The creation of a history walk on the western side of Library Park where ultimately a series of five murals will be placed. The biggest mural will be 105-feet long by 8 feet high facing 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.

• Installation of a bocce ball court.

• Adding a second playground for older children.

It was the continuation of work that had already been done over the last six years including the interactive water play feature, the restrooms, and the tot lot.

Funding was 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 as a 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.

The expanded Library Park is expected to cost the city $18,000 a year to maintain.