Manteca incorporated in 1918 but it wasn’t until 1928 that the city, and not a private firm, supplied water to residents and businesses.
Instead Achille Baccilieri — a man who built the region’s first commercial winery as well as donated land for what ended up being Manteca’s first municipal park — established the first water system in 1900. Known as the Manteca Water Works, by 1913 it served less than 200 residents in the Manteca town site.
Baccilieri offered to sell the system in 1913 for $8,000 to the Board of Trade — a hybrid community self-governing system that was part Chamber of Commerce and part de facto city council for the unincorporated Manteca community. The offer was rejected as being too high.
In 1914 he installed a 50,000 gallon tank. Even then there wasn’t enough water to assure continuous flows to residents. The volunteer fire department had grave concerns about their ability to fight fires when they had to tap into the system.
Baccilieri continued to offer the system to the Board of Trade on an annual basis and continued to do so after the city incorporated in May 28, 1918. Each time the city declined to purchase the water works.
Then in 1923 the city accepted the offer and moved to finance the purchase with a bond issue for the system that was now valued at $56,000.
A Bulletin story outlined the expenses — $1,800 a year for the superintendent’s salary; $1,000 for the clerk’s annual salary; $100 a year for stationery and bills; $2,000 annual for operation and maintenance; and labor and repairs added $600 a year. That came to $5,500 in annual exposes against $14,500 in receipts. A Bulletin editorial asked, “How can the citizens go wrong?”
The citizens thought different as the bond was voted down on May 8, 1923.
Manteca residents after the election petitioned the State Railroad Commission — the forerunner of the California Public Utilities Commission — ontending Manteca Water Works was charging unreasonable and excessive rates.
The commission concurred as they lowered the rates between 10 and 25 percent and switched to flat rate charges.
The new monthly charges were $1.25 for a home of five rooms or less, 10 cents for each additional room, 25 cents for a bathroom, 20 cents for a garage and one auto, 10 cents for each additional auto, 20 cents for a barn and one animal, and 10 cents for each additional animal.
Even though the rates were lowered, a number of residents protested within several months to the City Council they were paying even higher rates than before.
Then in 1928 California Water Service offered to buy the system from Baccilieri for $46,000. Residents protested again this time arguing the city should own its own system.
Manteca, now at 1,750 residents was paying 33 cents per 1,000 gallons of water as opposed to Oakdale that paid 16 cents, and 5 cents for Lodi.
The campaign for the bond cited the need to avoid people from drilling their own wells that could undermine the town’s ability to grow plus how purchasing the system and appointing the fire chief as water superintendent would significantly lower fire insurance premiums for residents.
The bond passed 246 to 100 on June 8, 1928. Thirty-seven days later Manteca took over the system and announced rates would be lowered.
City officials hoped less expensive water would improve the looks of Manteca as a number of people had refused to plant landscaping that needed irrigating because they didn’t want to pay Baccilieri’s prices.
Baccilieri built one of Manteca’s first buildings that wasn’t a home — the Baccilieri Winery on Oak Street. Although it was shuttered roughly 80 years ago the building on Oak Street still stands.
Donated land for
Manteca’s first park
Baccilieri in 1914 donated land for Manteca’s first park to the Board of Trade. The park — which carries his name — is located just south of downtown. It is in a triangle bounded by Wetmore, Stockton, and Vine streets.
It is the city’s fifth smallest park roughly the same size as the Paseo Circle Park that covers an acre and functions as a roundabout of sorts on Buena Vista Drive in the neighborhood north of Woodward Avenue. The smallest is Mini Park on Elm Avenue at North Street followed by Wilson Park behind the Post Office, Hildebrand Park on Pine Street west of Garfield Avenue, and Moffat Basin Park on Moffat Boulevard.
Baccilieri Park also has a lot of history. During the Great Depression it was where a makeshift community of homeless — essentially Manteca’s own Hooverville so named after President Herbert Hoover who was in the White House when the Depression started — popped up consisting of families drifting looking for work primarily on farms and in canneries.
In April of 1966, Baccilieri Park was an overnight stop over for 77 Latino and Filipino grape workers who walked from Delano to Sacramento where they were joined by 8,000 other people at the end of the 340-mile march led by Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers during the grape strike over wages, working conditions, and living traditions.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org