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Optimism strong as ideas to improve downtown shared
Property owner Pat Ferrel shares his concerns about downtown. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Most downtown merchants are happy with the location of their businesses. 

Most of them are growing, and nearly none of those surveyed considered traffic to be of the utmost concern to the downtown business area when compared to problems like the inability to attract other merchants and the recent surge in homelessness. 

In fact, the results of a peer survey commissioned by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce were almost overwhelmingly optimistic as the results were read on Thursday night by Chamber President and Doctors Hospital CEO Nicco Tejada – showing that while the longtime business and property owners want to see a revitalization take place, doing so without stripping away the small, family-run operations that have weathered the recession and now makeup the foundation of the downtown district is important. 

But things do need to change. 

Two survey items that didn’t draw favorable responses were what the impact to business are when special downtown events were held. It’s reportedly nominal and is more of a hassle than anything for customers that legitimately want to shop. The survey also showed that merchants aren’t getting what they would consider assistance from the City of Manteca on issues that could affect the downtown area. 

There was a lot of feedback about taking out the bulbs and possibly even making Yosemite Avenue a one-way street during the brainstorming sessions. Adding diagonal parking is something that was suggested. 

The Chamber of Commerce earned high marks when people were polled about who should be the ones taking over a downtown revitalization project of this magnitude – more than 95 people responded affirmatively. But less than 35 percent think that the chamber has the potential to pull it off. 

Last week Tejada and Brenda Franklin took merchants on a walk through a portion of downtown to give merchants a chance to feel what is currently down at those businesses and to get a feel for what downtown could become with a coordinated effort. 

The meetings will likely be ongoing. Merchants will share their thoughts on the upcoming and abstract ideas that were needed to turn places like Lodi and Tracy into the downtown Mecca that they have become.