The purchase of $577,000 of wetlands credits Tuesday by the Manteca City Council clears the way for infrastructure work to start for the much-ballyhooed 210-acre family entertainment zone (FEZ) project envisioned to be anchored by a 500-room hotel, indoor water park, and conference center.
Now the $250 million plus question is “where is the indoor water park resort project?”
Mayor Steve DeBrum indicted Tuesday that McWhinney Development — the city’s exclusive negotiating party for the resort portion of the FEZ project — is still in talks with two operators.
DeBrum declined to offer any details or to identify the players although Great Wolf — that opened a similar resort in Garden Grove near Disneyland last year — started talking with Manteca city officials in December 2010 about possibly developing a 30-acre site on city owned land along the 120 Bypass west of Costco.
The mayor said personally he wants to make sure numbers on any project make sense “for the city and its citizens.”
“We are not going to give away the farm,” DeBrum promised.
City leaders last year indicated they expected negotiations with a water park operated being handled the Colorado-based firm of McWhinney Co. that wants to build a resort would be wrapped up sometime this year.
Manteca has awarded a contract for $8 million to put in place basic infrastructure for the FEZ that would need a major water park resort to create the pulling power to lure other private sector investment that the plan envisions.
That work will be able to proceed as soon as the escrow for the wetlands credits is closed and recorded and the proper state and federal regulatory agencies are notified.
The improvements — being funded with part of the remaining redevelopment agency money earmarked for that specific purpose — are needed to make the overall project “shovel ready.” The goal has been to convert the city-owned wastewater treatment plant land into uses that generate money for municipal coffers as well as provide more jobs.
City officials have said the main sewer, water, and storm lines can be put in place even without the exact alignment of the Daniels Street extension to McKinley Avenue being adopted.
The lines will be placed in such a manner that they will be either under a future roadway or parking lot.
The infrastructure also will extend a purple pipeline beneath the 120 Bypass. The plan is to connect it with the existing sewer line that pumps wastewater from as far east as the Woodward Park neighborhoods to the treatment plant. The two lines will be connected when the final segment of a gravitational sewer line along Woodward is completed. The existing sewer line will be cleaned and then recycled wastewater will flow by gravity to areas such as city parks and school playing fields south of the 120 Bypass.
The city has placed the private investment needed for the envisioned waterpark resort at $250 million plus.
The purchase of the wetlands credits was required under Army Corps of Engineers rules because the 210 acres that are part of the municipal wastewater treatment plant site to the north and west of the Big League Dreams sports complex contains 5.42 acres of wetlands and 2.44 acres of seasonal wetlands. It also contains 2.98 acres of irrigation canals considered “other waters” that will be lost due to the canals being converted to buried pipe.
The wetlands credits are being purchased in the Consumnes River floodplain Sacramento County.
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