By DENNIS WYATT
The first phase of Manteca’s current city hall complex was completed in 1975 when the city had 13,200 residents.
Now 44 years later with 71,800 more residents and housing projects in various stages of approval that could easily add another 20,000 residents, the city is looking at working toward developing plans to make sure the city has adequate civic facilities as Manteca moves toward becoming a city of 120,000 people.
The City Council was scheduled to consider asking for proposals to have an assessment conducted of city hall needs including the police department on Tuesday but they were unable to make it make it all the way through the agenda before calling it quits for the night. There is $100,000 budgeted for the assessment that would be covered with government facilities fees assessed on new growth.
The request for proposals submitted by the staff for the council to consider listed four potential sites for the next city hall:
uKeeping it at the current campus at 1001 West Center St.
uPlacing it at Union Road Park next to the city corporation yard that is adjacent to the golf course and Morezone Baseball Field.
uRepurposing Library Park and Wilson Park.
uUsing the city owned parking lot that is in the form of a triangle behind the south side of the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue and west of South Maple Street that dead ends at the Tidewater Bikeway. The request for proposals notes that the parking lot location would require a parking structure.
The sites were selected as they were considering suitable city-owned properties that could work as a location for a new city hall.
Although it isn’t mentioned, based on space needs of the city it is clear that any of the locations — including the existing campus — will require a multi-story building.
Mayor Ben Cantu has made it clear he intends to push hard for a downtown location. His vision is to convert the existing City Hall campus to recreational and community center uses among other things. He would need to convince two other council members to agree with him.
Cantu has said he will consider what the consultant comes up with but it is highly doubtful he will abandon his position to move city hall downtown that he has pitched not just in the past six election cycles but also for decades.
City Manager Tim Ogden in June noted that various sites will be looked at but based on the fact the city owns the land where the current Civic Center is located at 1001 W. Center St. and could easily go up and build in phases as money becomes available it may very well end up being the best choice in terms of being the most cost effective solution. The last time the city had an assessment done of city hall needs was in 2006. It involved doing what Ogden believes may end up being the best solution which is to keep city hall where it is at and add multiple story buildings.
Cantu contends a city hall downtown would generate more foot traffic and would make it feasible for more businesses and restaurants to open in the city’s central district.
Cantu’s preferred downtown site is not on the staff’s list of possible locations nor is it owned by the city. His vision revolves around the vacant lot that once was home to the Manteca Bean Co. on the northeast corner of South Grant Street and Moffat Boulevard across from the Manteca Transit Center.
Cantu’s vision includes incorporation of a new police station at that site as well due to being it centrally located to the city for police.
The location is within a block of what for years has been the geographic center of the city as well as where the major north-south arterial (Main Street) crossing the east-west corridor (Yosemite Avenue) that ties outlying commercial areas to downtown.
Cantu first unveiled a detailed vision for a downtown city hall during his 2010 campaign for mayor.
It included purchasing not just the Manteca Bean Co. site but also land where an adjoining drive-in taqueria is as well as the Hospice of San Joaquin HOPE Chest and Kelly Moore paint store are located plus property on the east side of South Grant Street.
In Cantu’s 2010 plan it called for a two-story city hall building that also would house the police department along with basement parking for police and city vehicles. There also was a nearby two-story 28,000-square-foot library, and a single story 8,000 foot DMV building. All three would be surrounded by parking.
His vision today doesn’t include a library or DMV at that location while the city hall/police department structure would likely have to be larger.
Cantu has said once the city hall is moved back downtown the civic center could be converted into a community center for recreational classes and activities anchored by the senior center. He noted the council chambers could be converted to a small performing arts center.
He would upgrade and modernize the library at its current location.
Manteca’s first city hall — a 52 by 84 square foot two-story brick building dedicated on Nov. 2, 1923 — is in the 100 block of Sycamore Avenue and is across Manteca Avenue from Library Park is still standing.
It served the city’s needs until 1978 when the first phase of the current civic center was completed.
In 2006 the city commissioned a needs assessment for city hall space that came up with a preliminary design that had two- to three- story buildings being constructed on site at a cost estimated back then at $20 million.