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Mayor hates bulbs but says Manteca cant afford to remove them
The controversial landscaping bulbs and islands in the 100 block of North Main Street are here to stay for a while. - photo by Bulletin file photo
The following are the results to the Manteca Bulletin’s on-line web poll that asks the question, “Should the landscaping bulbs on Main Street in downtown Manteca be removed?

YES: 351
NO: 123
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The current question that you can vote on appears on is as follows, “Do you think Lathrop High should be closed to save Manteca Unified money?

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford didn’t like the idea of landscaping bulbs on North Main Street when they were first proposed in July of 2003.

He likened them even less when they went in during early 2005.

The mayor still doesn’t get warm and fuzzy feelings when he sees them today.

Weatherford — along with former Councilman Jack Snyder — voted against the bulbs over five years ago. It would make him happy to see them gone.

But Weatherford is  realistic. He doesn’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon because of the cost.

“It isn’t just the cost of tearing out some concrete,” Weatherford said.

The mayor noted the overall $4 million improvement project — it was supposed to be the first phase with plans to carry on the basic design on other side streets as well as Center Street — required putting in water and drainage lines in to serve the landscaping bulbs. It also included traffic signal improvements as well as lining street lanes.

The mayor said the cost could easily exceed $200,000.

“Even if I want to see them out, the city can’t afford it,” said Weatherford, alluding to the $8 million budget deficit the city needs to deal with for the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1.

The mayor does concede, though, that the trees and plants have added somewhat to the ambiance of downtown.

“It’s better than seeing nothing but sidewalk and store fronts,” he said.

He noted other areas that have put four lanes of traffic through older downtown areas — such as the eastern end of 11th Street in Tracy — have created a barren, unattractive environment.

Weatherford believes that when the city is in a position to do something financially that they need to look at the entire picture.

“If the 120 Bypass really does become the city’s new center of commerce, it may change traffic patterns through downtown in the next 10 years,” Weatherford said.

While traffic count may drop somewhat, he believes the downtown district due to its location will still have heavy traffic flow.

That is why he believes the smart move doesn’t involve simply tearing out the concrete bulbs on North Main Street.

The mayor believes the entire central district including traffic patterns that go east and west as well need to be taken into account and an overall plan be developed and be put in place and not continue to take a piecemeal approach.

That plan, Weatherford said, requires making Yosemite Avenue a one-way street heading east and Center Street a one-way street heading west.