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northgate picnic
The new Northgate Park picnic shelter adjacent to the softball complex.

One of the pressing priorities for Manteca’s Recreation & Community Services Department is modifying the Northgate Park softball complex into a sports and multi-use facility.

The need is based on the demand placed on Woodward Community Park by groups and organizations that are seeking facilities for sporting and community events.

Northgate Park is configured for three softball fields. It could be modified to accommodate soccer as well as softball in addition to other uses.

The push to modify the Northgate Park softball complex was shared with the Manteca City Council earlier this month during their goal setting workshop for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Other immediate priorities besides modifying Northgate Park included funding a full-time recreation coordinator position, complete recreation lobby and office improvements, and to modify the Market on Maple event by adding additional downtown events through partnerships with local businesses.

Whether any or all of the short-term priorities get funded depends upgoing local revenue. The current budget that ends June 30 has a structured deficit of $3.1 million. That means revenue generated for the three-month period will exceed all projected expenses.

The city is drawing down reserves to cover the deficit. That said, the city can’t continue that given it is unstainable to keep spending more money than the city takes in every year.
The priorities the department outlined are based on current demands and short-range needs.

What wasn’t addressed was adding community recreation amenities that growth is creating a demand for in Manteca.

At a council goal setting session in 2018 a majority of elected  members made implementing a strategy to develop a new swimming pool, a community gym/recreation center, and additional sports fields was a priority. Those needs were identified in a  community survey and subsequent Parks & Recreation master plan the council approved 15 months earlier in 2016.

 A swimming pool, gym/recreation center and more sports fields were identified as top tier priorities in the document.
The study indicated a tax of some type is necessary due to the sheer cost of what was outlined in the masterplan as well as state laws that limit charging fees om new growth to the cost of facilities, they generate a need for a city to build. Increased fees on new housing to help pay for the lion’s share of the projected $75 million tab were put in place in December of 2016.
If all goes according to plan, new housing that will add 44,000 residents by 2036 to push the city’s population to 120,000 would cover $52.1 million of the tab. The $25.7 million question is where will the rest of the money will come from to cover the balance of the tab.  That is where some type of tax — sales, parcel or a property tax to fund a bond — comes into play.
The three top tier projects have an overall cost that could go as high as $43.1 million based on 2016 cost estimates. Just how much the city would need depends upon various options for projects, penciling out more precise costs, and how much of the overall masterplan for swimming pools and sports fields the City Council might eventually seek.
The swimming pool is one example of how the costs could vary greatly. It also reflects the array of decisions that the council would need to make in to allow staff to devise an implementation strategy and determine how much the city would need to raise through a tax.
The plan indicated it would take $2 million to make the 64-year-old plus Lincoln Pool more viable that’s located across from the fire station on Powers Avenue. A replacement pool would cost $4.5 million. The cost of a full-blown aquatics center, the most expensive project in the master plan, was pegged at $11.6 million. The plan also states the city needs two additional swimming pools by 2036 in addition to the existing pool.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email