The Manteca Unified board on Tuesday will consider taking eminent domain action to obtain the Pacific Motel at 453 Moffat Blvd. as part of the district’s bid to expand the Manteca High campus to accommodate 2,200 students.
The property in question would be razed and space created for 60 more parking spaces.
The district a few years back purchased the corner parcel at Sherman and Moffat to the west of the Pacific Motel. Part of that parcel will be converted into a new location for the campus trash compactor and garbage bins in a fenced off area as well as additional parking.
The district starting talking with motel owners Anil and Viven Patel in April 2018. They made an offer at that time based on the appraised full market value of $1,025,000. In the past two years negotiations have not resulted in a sale.
Victoria Brunn, the MUSD community outreach director, confirmed the move to acquire the motel is part of an ongoing effort to secure adequate spaced for the school and its operations that includes parking as well as to better secure the campus for student safety.
Brunn said the district will explore opportunities as they come up.
The campus is being expanded with classrooms to allow it to go from a design capacity of 1,737 students to 2,200 students.
The California Department of Education requires a high school campus of 2,200 students to have 46.8 acres. The Manteca High campus only has 34.82 acres.
The initial options the district looked at a few years back was to relocate to an entire new campus. The cost of doing so — well in excess of $140 million to replicate the needed facilities at the 101-year-old campus — was determined to be cost prohibitive.
Such a switch to potential available sites the district would also have to spend money to buy would trigger a massive shot in attendance boundaries for high school students throughout Manteca.
That is why the district opted to modernize and expand the existing campus.
A $41 million plus project is now underway to partially accomplish the goal. It includes building a gym for 2,200 students — almost three times the capacity of the existing main gym — as well as a swimming pool that meets today’s competitive high school standards.
To address traffic flow, safety, and security issues the front of the campus is being re-orientated to Moffat.
A student drop off zone will be created in front of the new swimming pool, gym, and promenade accessing football, softball, and baseball fields. It will come off of the southern portion of Garfield Avenue the Manteca City Council voted to rename Buffalo Way in honor of the school’s centennial last year.
The district also plans to erect a 7-foot high masonry wall to block off adjoining automotive businesses for both security and visual appeal reasons.
The city turned over a segment Garfield that had split the campus in two. It is being repurposed as a plaza to tie together new and existing classrooms east of the former street with the rest of the campus.
More important it will allow the district to extend wrought iron fencing that can’t be cut to secure more of the campus during the school day. In the past not only could people literally walk through campus when classes were in session due to Garfield Avenue but the homeless would sometimes bed down for the night under shrubs or cut through fencing to access the football stadium where they’d sleep under and around the bleachers.
The openness of the campus due to the street led to several tense incidents over the years including one time when a homeless man openly carried a long knife in a sheath walked onto campus.
The district is now looking at $260 million in Measure A bonds voters approved last year to roll out more upgrades at the district’s oldest high school campus.
The buildings on the Manteca High campus have an average composite age of 52 years with the largest amount of modernization needs in the district. It will require another $62 million to bring all classrooms and infrastructure up to grade due to wear and tear and functionality in addition to work now underway.
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