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Cantu wants to ‘country club-ize’ golf course
golf clubhouse
Mayor Ben Cantu wants to make Manteca golf course clubhouse look more like a country club.

Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu — less than an hour after he joined his colleagues in placing a one cent municipal sales tax on the Nov. 3 ballot — gave a glimpse at how he’d like to see any new money raised possibly spent.

Cantu believes Manteca needs to make its municipal golf course look more like a country club.

The mayor believes if the city invests some money into the golf course and clubhouse the city could attract executive-style events. He indicated the course and clubhouse needed to look like 2020 and not 1956.

This comes from the same person two election cycles ago during an unsuccessful run for the City Council drove course supporters nuts when he suggested turning the 18-hole Union Road golf course into a community park like Woodward Park and building a new golf course east of Highway 99.

If you go back just 30 years ago Manteca’s elected leaders were being slammed for building a clubhouse that critics panned at the time as a “Taj Mahal”. The council back then directed staff to come up with a country club style clubhouse which, for the record, sits atop the old city dump. It’s an apropos past given 9 holes of the 18-hole course is on land where the city’s wastewater treatment plant was once located

The clubhouse replaced a low-key snack bar and small pro shop that had been in place at the time.

The two-story clubhouse went for almost a decade before living up to its promise and that’s only after the late Frank Guinta — an honest, savvy businessman, whom dozens upon dozens of people who worked with him  for their first job described him as a key mentor as they were growing up — stepped in to take over the restaurant and snack bar.

The clubhouse has a checkered and costly past. Besides being a reason why the golf course enterprise fund bled red ink for years:

•The 1990 council’s dream of having a clubhouse with a high profile restaurant was criticized out of the gate by opponents who brought in a commercial real estate broker who said it would never work as it couldn’t snag necessary high volume business due to its location and parking. The second floor sat vacant for years.

•The initial city effort to secure a restaurant contractor ended with that individual pocketing money the city issued checks for various pieces of restaurant equipment which led to criminal charges and a successful prosecution.

•The second restaurant contractor left the city saddled with close to $30,000 in unpaid bills before walking away. It wasn’t until Guinta took over the food services both in the snack bar and on the second floor that has a full-service bar that the city had a reliable partner plus one that was able to provide food and service that attracted patrons despite the golf course being off the beaten path in terms of accessibility and traffic.

The rest of the council on Tuesday was quick to say there were other pressing needs and that this wasn’t the right time.

Cantu responded by saying the pandemic was becoming the latest city excuse for not getting  things done. He added “it never costs any to talk or make a plan.”

Initially Cantu wanted it brought back at the next council meeting. When council members balked he suggested the first meeting in November that based on normal scheduling happens to fall on Election Day the sales tax measure is being decided.

Any possible council discussion of Cantu’s idea was then shelved until January.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com