Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu is working with city staff and a downtown property owner to place a mini veterans’ plaza on the northwest corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
Cantu earlier this month said the property owner did not want to sell the entire parcel that once was occupied by a Standard gas station as it was needed for parking, but indicated they were willing to negotiate with the city for the possible sale of a small portion on the corner.
The parcel — besides being at the heart of downtown and near the geographic center of the developed portion of Manteca — played a significant role in the life of area residents during World War II. On the east side wall of the 106-year-old IOOF Building that now houses the Manteca Bedquarters, was a gigantic billboard that listed the names of those from the community serving in World War II. Names were added as Manteca residents entered the service. By the end of the war the billboard listed 963 names.
It is why the Manteca Mural Society selected the wall for its mural project that includes five murals honoring those from the community that served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terror.
Cantu in the past has said he’d like to see some type of statue or sculpture with appropriate landscaping on the corner to complement the five murals.
If the city is able to reach a deal it might be a nice touch if they can also get an agreement to put in place a landscaped planter along the Main Street sidewalk. Not only would it block driveways along Main between the alley and Yosemite to eliminate disrupting traffic flow but it would improve the visual appeal of downtown. Not only would it accent the Manteca Bedquarters building housed in the oldest commercial structure in Manteca but it would break up the solid asphalt look.
The landscaping could even be a notch or two above the regular city standard that aims for low maintenance if they can strike an arrangement with the Manteca Garden Club as the City of Ripon did with the Ripon Garden Club to plant and maintain brilliant colors in planter boxes in Ripon’s downtown.
When all is said and done, the city could go a long way to improve the looks of the heart of the city using a minimal amount of space while keeping almost all of the parking intact.
It should be noted the owners of the Manteca Bedquarters have always gone the extra mile for the community. Not only have they allowed the five veterans murals to grace their wall but the parking lot is used for community events such as the Pumpkin Fair, the Crossroads Street Fair, the parking of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce Flags Over Manteca truck trailer that houses 2,400 flags as well as the Manteca Rotary Club’s Santa Hut.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org