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How to pay for recreation facilities
A conceptual plan of what a 38-acre site such as the city owned parcel north of the Big League Dreams sports complex would look like with nine soccer fields, a 72,000-square-foot community gym/recreation center, nine soccer fields, playground, plaza with an interactive water feature, and parking would look like.

Manteca is looking at investing in an aquatics center, a 72,000-square-foot community gym/recreation center and possibly nine additional soccer fields.

The ballpark cost — if it is built on one potential city-owned site of 38 acres north of the Big League Dreams sports complex and near the municipal wastewater treatment plant — is $81.4 million in today’s dollars. It will also cost $630,000 a year to run and maintain of which 82.9 percent of that would likely be recovered via user fees.

That is a quick summary of a presentation made to the City Council Tuesday of what is the first step in a bid to implement Manteca’s first ever Parks & Recreation Master Plan adopted in 2017.

What is up next is surveying residents to determine their stomach for new taxes — and the specific type of tax — they would support not just for recreational facilities but also other city needs and wants such as more muscular police staffing as well as a new city hall/police department complex. Among the taxes that residents are expected to be polled on next month are a sales tax, parcel tax, and a community facilities district.

The city several years ago put in place higher park fees to make sure new growth pays its share of community recreation facilities. But because it is illegal for new residents to pay for public facilities beyond covering the impact they create, the city needs a way to fund the portion of the tab that serves existing residents.

Also the city needs to select a site and secure a more precise cost estimate on what they would like to build. The three types of recreational facilities selected to be pursued — more sports fields, a community gym/recreation center, and an aquatics center — was partly based on community input at workshops.

To make the Parks & Recreation master plan more than just a pie-in-the-sky wish list, the city needs to secure a funding source to wed with growth fees collected for the purpose of building community park facilities.

Manteca now has

4 community parks

Manteca now has nearly 85,000 residents and is on pace to top 100,000 people within the next six years. It has four community park type of facilities — Lincoln Park, Northgate Park, Woodward Park, and the Big League Dreams sports complex.

Lincoln Park was developed with the city’s current — and only — public swimming pool in the early 1960s when Manteca had 8,242 residents. It also has a baseball field.

Northgate Park with its three softball fields and lighted soccer field was built in the 1970s when Manteca had 13,485 residents.

Woodward Park with multiple soccer fields on a 52-acre site was started in 1999 when Manteca had 49,258 residents.

The BLD sports complex with six baseball fields and an indoor soccer arena opened in 2008 when Manteca had 64,979 residents.

Manteca requires developers of new subdivisions to pick up 100 percent of the cost of neighborhood parks as well as form community facilities districts so those that own the homes in the subdivision foot the bill for upkeep and maintenance of the parks as well as common landscaping and street lighting.

The city is implementing a general plan policy that requires every new subdivision home built in Manteca to be within a half mile of a neighborhood park.

Developing community parks in Manteca has proven to be much more daunting.

Lincoln Park was built in part with general fund money and community volunteers.

Northgate Park was a combination of development fees and state grants plus bonus bucks that were paid by developers for sewer allocation certainty to install the soccer field lights.

Woodward Park, unlike Lincoln and Northgate, did not for all practical purposes require the city to buy the land as Atherton Homes sold the 52 acres to the city for $1.  The park has been developed so far with developer fees and state grants. Bonus bucks also covered the cost of the soccer field lights as well as other Woodward Park improvements.

The BLD complex was built with $30 million in redevelopment agency bond receives. The city is avoiding an estimated $16.5 million in maintenance and operational costs through its 35-year contract awarded to BLD to operate and maintain the city-owned complex.

A similar arrangement to avoid impacting the general fund with ongoing operational costs may be put in place if and when a new recreational complex is built.

Lack of political will by past 

city councils stymied efforts

 to secure rec facilities

The biggest obstacle in the past to pursuing recreational facilities such as a new library as well as tennis courts and other improvements and Woodward Park has been a lack of political will by previous city councils to even ask voters if they would be willing to pay for recreation amenities through new taxes.

A decade ago the city had a capital improvement project list in place for 37 park projects with a price tag of $62.5 million. Many of the park projects listed were covered by park fees paid for growth. But big ticket items that needed additional funding by some type of tax being adopted by voters simply languished. That’s because the only “action plan” previous councils had besides collecting growth fees was asking for state handouts, and private sector grants that never panned out.

Included among the projects that went nowhere and their 2009 cost estimates for both construction and annual maintenance as listed in the municipal budget:

Woodward baseball field, $1.6 million. The annual maintenance is $16,400.

Woodward amphitheater, $1.9 million. The annual maintenance is $6,300.

Woodward concessions/additional restrooms, $864,000. The annual maintenance is $18,700.

Skate park improvements, $400,000. The annual maintenance is $26,100.

Woodward tennis center, $4.1 million. The annual maintenance is $139,000.

Performing/visual arts center, $18 million. The annual maintenance is $68,000.

Community center, $16 million. The annual maintenance is $64,000.

Aquatics center, $16 million. The annual maintenance cost is $72,500.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email