The Nur Al-Huda Academy when it is completed will not only provide a quality faith-based school but it will make it safer for the surrounding neighborhood as well as for public school students trying to cross Union Road, for and motorists turning off and on Union Road from Mission Ridge Drive.
Site work for the private academy being built for a maximum 240 students on the west side of Union Road at Mission Ridge Drive has already made the neighborhood safer.
Contaminated soil from a former farm chemical business on the site has been removed. But perhaps more important the demolition of a house and removal of all vegetation and outbuildings on the property cleaned up and eliminated what arguably was one of the most prolific and problematic homeless encampments in Manteca.
For more than a decade nearby residents whose homes backed up to the site had to deal with illegal occupancy of the home that did not have running water or plumbing plus various “warming fires” that got out of control. One was so large that it threatened for a while at least six homes until the Manteca Fire Department got it under control.
But the biggest impacts the community will have from the project are safer traffic movements on Union Road.
Traffic safety issues are due primarily to city planning 30 years ago never took into account the possibility a major commercial area that today is anchored by Costco and Kohl’s would be built along Daniels Street or that Union Road — which was originally built as just a bridge crossing the 120 Bypass – would have ramps connecting with the freeway.
A number of people on the weekends reach Costco by using Mission Ridge Drive that T-intersects with Union to reach Daniels Street that T-intersects with Union to the south to reach the wholesale warehouse.
Twenty-five years ago commuters and others seeking to access the Bypass and lived east of Union Road used Main Street to do so.
Once the ramps were installed the poor design of the Union Road corridor came into play. The previous city development standard of creating “Manteca canyons” with no landscaping between sound walls and sidewalk created sight-line issues for those trying to turn off of Mission Ridge Drive.
And as traffic volume has grown on Union as well as Mission Ridge that was built a collector street but thanks to the city 15 years ago putting in the missing link of Industrial Park Drive to create a de facto arterial of sorts starting with Cottage Avenue at Louise Avenue and connecting with Spreckles Avenue, Industrial Park Drive, and Mission Ridge Drive.
Add to that the city has just completed a converging diamond interchange on Union Road just over a quarter of mile away with four lanes and traffic volumes on Union Road will be going up over the years without the academy being built.
Those are among the factors that have prompted city staff to propose a cost share of the $500,000 traffic signal they are requiring the school to install at the intersection.
Such a cost sharing arrangement for a traffic signal required by development that wasn’t included in the Public Facilities Implementation Plan fee for roads collected from new development over a larger area has never been done by the city before.
The academy developers asked the city to consider the share approach. And after weighing all the factors including creating a safe crossing with signals for public school students in the area as well crossing heavily traveled Union Road that has traffic moving at 40 mph, staff is proposing as 50-50 cost share.
That is after a consultant determined a traffic signal would be a great benefit to regulate traffic flow at the intersection and to provide enhanced safety to existing and future pedestrians
The consultant concluded that 50 percent of the near-term total pedestrian/bicycle volumes would be attributed to the Academy and the other 50 percent to a nearby public school.
If the council concurs when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m., the academy will install the traffic signals and crosswalk and the city will reimburse them for up to 50 percent of the cost not to exceed $250,000.
Academy will have
The private academy is being designed for a maximum of 240 students with a teacher-student ratio between 1 to 25 and 1 to 30.
It will include a two-story, 29,420-square-foot building with classrooms, resource centers, and prayer rooms; a one-story 5,436 square-foot administration building; and a 12,8690-square-foot multipurpose building for athletic activities and school assemblies. There will be outside athletic facilities and 128 parking stalls.
The entrance driveway will be to the north of the Mission Ridge Drive/Union Road intersection. The exit driveway will tie into the intersection that will include a traffic signal.
School hours for students would be 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Hours for staff would be 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The academy is expected to start with 100 to 150 students but can accommodate up to 240 students. Initially eight certificated teachers would be hired along with three classified staff, a counselor, and an administrator.
The three buildings will have a stucco exterior painted in earth tones. They will have metal roofs. A 20-square-foot monument sign will be placed along Union Road.
The mission statement for Nur Al-Huda Academy being developed by the Islamic Center of Manteca is “to promote religious, intellectual, and social growth in our students while paving their way to a lifetime of religious and educational success through an Islamic based education and environment where they will insha-Allah become firmly grounded upon the Quran and Authentic Sunnah as understood and lived by his Companions “
Nur Al-Huda Academy will be the first Islamic School built in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org