The Manteca Library hasn’t been expanded since 1977
The expansion at the city-owned facility at 320 W, Center Street in downtown was designed to serve the needs of a community of 32,000. Manteca now has 75,000 residents.
The last big push to expand Manteca’s library facilities started 20 years ago.
A citizens’ task force was formed. Options were studied such as building a new library at Airport Way and Louise Avenue and converting the exiting location into a branch library. In the end the task force — and the City Council at the time — settled on staying at 320 Center St. They went with a schematic design that more than doubled the space with a two-story floorplan that emphasized the tech forces that were reshaping libraries as the 21st century approached. Part of the rationale had to do with pumping up downtown.
And how was Manteca going to pay for the library that had a price tag of $33 million? Their plan was simple and — by all measures — woefully incomplete. They were counting on being awarded the lion’s share from the distribution of proceeds for a statewide bond that passed. Once they got the money, they’d figure out how to raise the rest.
Manteca just missed getting bond funds in both rounds.
At that point, the city dropped pursuing the library and — some at the time said conveniently — blamed not having better library facilities in Manteca on the state.
That was in 2002.
Over the next six election cycles the library has come up as a campaign issue with the usual promises to work toward new facilities. However, subsequent councils have never moved it from long-range status to listing it on the municipal five-year capital improvement plan.
Such an official designation doesn’t mean a library would be built within five years. It simply commits the council to working toward it with the basic expectation that some progress will be made within a five year period.
Fourteen years have passed since the city has done anything in regards to library facilities.
Since then almost 5,000 homes have been built. Had the council back in 2000 adopted a fee for new library facilities to supplement funding from other sources such as the bond funds Manteca had hoped to secure, the city could have $12.5 million on hand today if the fee had been set at $500 a home. instead there is nothing set aside for library facilities.
Effort to jumpstart
moving forward with
new library facilities
fizzled in June 2015
In June of 2015 during a city budget workshop Councilman Vince Hernandez attempted to jumpstart efforts to address new library facilities.
Hernandez didn’t want the city to dust off the proposal for a $33 million “main” library expansion on Center Street and go from there — far from it.
Instead he wanted to see smaller branch libraries placed around Manteca to make them more accessible.
At the time he said he wanted to make a push to include library facilities in future spending documents as part of the five-year capital improvement plan. Nothing happened, however.
Inclusion on the list is crucial to get a project moving toward fruition. They are essentially priorities that the council adopts for staff to work toward. It doesn’t mean that they will get completed within that five-year time frame but it does mean work toward a project will move forward and not be shelved.
Placement on that five-year plan also means the facilities can be included in factoring the fee amounts collected from new growth.
Mayor Steve DeBrum made it clear during the 2015 budget talks that Manteca was “leaving money on the table” by not getting the public facilities fee and park fee updated as quickly as possible. By that he believes homes now being built are paying fees that are significantly lower than what can be justified as growth’s fair share of community facilities that the council has determined as being needed.
Library facilities are mentioned in passing in the capital improvement plan section in the budget among possible future projects. It is clear, however, it is not something within a five year target.
Library advocates such as Mas’ood Cajee believe the most effective library facilities would be smaller branches placed south of the 120 Bypass and in north Manteca along with a moderate expansion and modernization of the “main” branch library in Manteca.
Such a strategy greatly increases access for people based on the distance to the existing library as well as barriers that are posed for those without cars — including youth — such as the 120 Bypass.
Other communities such as Stockton and Lathrop have built branch libraries as part of structures that provide other functions such as a community center or — in Lathrop’s case — a teen center.
Library services have evolved with the times meaning that there isn’t a need to have massive book stacks to make branch libraries function effectively to increase community literacy, knowledge, help improve the economic lot of individuals and for use as a recreation facility for reading and other endeavors.
Such smaller branches could carry an annual cost to operate and maintain of $450,000 according to information obtained from the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library System.
Manteca essentially provides the building and covers the maintenance costs including utilities. They also make a small contribution to the books fund for the Manteca branch collection as well as provide funding for staffing hours beyond what the county and City of Stockton underwrite.
There is also another potential way to expand Manteca’s public library footprint.
Manteca Unified in the next five years could use Measure G bond money to build a replacement campus for Calla High — an alternative secondary school — on 40 acres along Tinnin Road south of Woodward Avenue the district has secured for the next comprehensive high school.
It presents an opportunity for the City of Manteca to possibly secure a municipal library branch south of the 120 Bypass.
But before that can happen two key elected bodies that talk a good game of seeking joint ventures to stretch tax dollars and maximize their benefits — the Manteca City Council and Manteca Unified School Board — would have to step up to the plate.
Manteca Unified Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke has said relocating Calla High to the Tinnin Road site is an option that is being explored. Burke has emphasized, though, that the district is far from making a decision on what it will do with Calla High.
Not only may modernizing and making safety improvements to the aging Calla campus not be an efficient expenditure of bond money but there is an issue of the appropriateness of the school’s location.
Joint use library
New Vision High
Manteca Unified already has an alternative high school with a joint use library on the same parcel as a comprehensive high school. Weston Ranch High and New Vision High are on opposite sides on a parcel in that South Stockton neighborhood.
Manteca Unified and the City of Stockton partnered for a joint-use library at the New Vision High campus. The district built the library and provides the upkeep while Stockton staffs it and maintains the collection.
The library is extensively used by the Weston Ranch community, New Vision students, and after school hours by neighborhood elementary school students as well as those from Weston ranch.
The Tinnin Road location is a stone’s throw from two major new subdivisions underway in South Manteca. There are already three elementary schools in place nearby — Woodward, Veritas, and Nile Garden — with two more planned. Manteca expects the lion’s share of future growth to be south of the 120 Bypass with ultimately the majority of residents living in the southern part of the city.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org