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Lathrop Manteca embarks on $3.75M project
LM older station 33
Originally built almost 50 years ago, Lathrop Manteca Fire District Station 31 on J Street in Historic Lathrop is set to get a much-needed facelift in a $3.75 million overhaul that will modernize the aging building.

When the Lathrop Manteca Fire District moved its operational headquarters to River Islands in early 2019 it marked the first time in the city’s history that the fire department’s administration was not in the historic heart of the city.

But with a $3.75 million overhaul of Station 31 currently underway, the district has proved that it is not abandoning its roots or the portion of the city that it called home for five decades.

According to Lathrop Manteca Division Chief Larry Madoski the work on Station 31 – which was first built on J Street in 1972 – is expected to be completed with 180 days with an incentive to the contractor to finish it early.

While the work is being done to completely rehabilitate the aging building and install much-needed items like system alerting capabilities and vehicle exhaust systems, the firefighters assigned to that station will temporarily be housed at Station 34 while battalion chiefs assigned to that part of Lathrop will respond to calls with life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and mechanical CPR machines if necessary.

“It has been a high priority and a big commitment to ensure that all of our facilities are maintained appropriately and serving the needs of growth,” Madoski said. “I think that’s another big testament to what Chief (Gene) Neely and the board have done – their commitment to their community and the communities that they serve.

“They aren’t batting an eye about spending money on that side of town.”

Funding for the project will come from a mixture of sources including fire facilities fees imposed on new growth and development, general fund money, and potentially Measure C if it is necessary.

The district is financing the project because of the low interest rates that are currently being offered and Madoski noted that the district’s finances are in such great shape that they were able to qualify for bonding to begin the work without having to put up any parcel numbers as collateral to secure the funding – a testament, he said, to the exemplary fiscal stewardship showed by the current Board of Directors.

And it isn’t the first time that the district poured resources into an aging station to bring it up to par with what residents expect from their fire service provider.

Not that long ago it was Station 33 near the intersection of Lathrop and Austin Roads in Northeast Manteca that got the overhaul treatment in the form of a new asphalt parking lot to bring the ensure it was ADA compliant.

While the work has long been needed, an issue with the previous architect almost prevented the work from moving forward before Eric Wohle of LDA Partners stepped in and helped design the building and allowed the project to not only move forward but also save money for taxpayers in the process.  

“He stepped in and saved the district $50,000 right off the bat,” Madoski said of Wohle – who has designed a number of municipal buildings in Manteca and Lathrop including the Manteca Animal Shelter and the Lathrop Generations Center. “We were actually stuck in a business relationship with another architect and as costs were skyrocketing beyond what we had originally planned we started looking elsewhere and put out a request for information and received three responses including his. He hasn’t batted an eye in stepping up to help the district get this project moving forward.”

According to the contract the work should be completed with 180 days of the official start which was earlier this month. The district has provided an incentive for the contractor to finish early as well as a potential penalty if they were to exceed that window.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.