Manteca’s next library could share the ground floor with council chambers in a multiple-story building that would house city hall functions as well as the Manteca Police Department.
Or it could be found in the current footprint of the existing library by reconfiguring existing walls and encompassing the courtyard in the building’s footprint while constructing two satellite branches — one south of the 120 Bypass and one east of Highway 99.
Neither idea is more than talk right now but the current council made it clear Tuesday library facilities are a top priority.
The library facilities — along with a new city hall, a new police station, a second senior center, a community center, a water division office at the wastewater treatment plant, and a public works corporation yard for streets, parks and facilities — were identified by the council as projects they want included in a nexus study needed to update the existing government facilities fee.
One facility wish that was part of the basis for the current fee — a performing arts center — was jettisoned.
The current fee assessed on growth — its $4,775 for a typical tract home — was established in 2006 after determining the initial fee of $350 put in place in 1986 was woefully inadequate.
“We’ve got to invest in more in nerd infrastructure than jock infrastructure,” Manteca dentist and library advocate Masood Cajee told the council.
Manteca, Tracy have worse
library services in greater
Cajee referenced a study conducted several years ago that placed Manteca and Tracy as the worst for library services in the greater NorCal Metroplex anchored by San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Manteca was rated as one of the most robust in terms of recreational sports facilities.
Cajee pointed to how the most successful cities in terms of luring high paying jobs — San Jose, Portland, and Seattle among them — have a huge commitment to libraries as public learning spaces and sport one library for every 25,000 residents.
Cajee said he could take council members to any library in the Silicon Valley on a Saturday morning and it would be packed.
He shared polling data from Manteca five years ago when a citizens group was trying to gauge the support a tax would have to fund libraries. At the time, 80 percent of the respondents strongly supported investing in libraries. Similar results among registered voters in Stockton prompted that city to seek a special tax to support libraries and recreational facilities. The Stockton tax measure that required a two thirds favorable vote to pass secured 77 percent of the ballots cast.
Cajee stressed how a library set up as a modern learning center is an effective tool at helping re-educate the workforce and teach literacy skills that could help wean residents off long commutes to make a living.
Cajee had no specific location or configuration in mind for a new library other than the city needing to make it a top priority.
Staff suggested the three uses in one approach as a possibility given it would keep costs down. They noted not only could there be library services and council chambers on the first floor but the presence of police headquarters in the same building would enhance security.
Mayor Ben Cantu made it clear he wasn’t in favor of a three-in-one approach. Nor did he want to see Library Park sacrificed in order to build a multiple story city hall complex. He said such a move would eliminate the park that is a key downtown attraction, would destroy what are arguably the city’s most stately trees and would place a high traffic building in an area with inadequate parking space.
He believed a more cost effective and quicker approach that could possibly be done by tapping money already collected would be to enlarge the existing library footprint by expanding into the courtyard. At the same time convert the McFall community room to library space, reconfigure the existing interior and provide the wiring infrastructure needed for a 21st century learning space.
Cantu also wants to see a pair of satellite libraries built in short order — one south of the 120 Bypass and the other east of Highway 99.
City holding $19.5M in
government facilities fees
The council ultimately directed a library, city hall and police station be listed separately for now.
The city took a stab at building a $33 million library complex but dropped the effort after failing to secure state library bond money to help build the envision 2-story replacement for the city library. The current library was built in 1961. When it was expanded in 1977 to its current configuration city officials predicted it would be adequate for the city through 1995 when the population was projected to reach 32,000. Manteca’s actual population in 1995 was 45,060 residents. Manteca now has 85,000 residents.
The city since 2006 has used the government facility fees to construct the animal shelter, police evidence building, the vehicle maintenance building, and the Moffat Community Center/Manteca VFW Hall.
The government facilities fee account had a $19.5 million balance as of June 2019.
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