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Woodward Park picnics becoming a shady affair
A shady structure will be built in the coming months over the Woodward Park picnic table area. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Next summer it’ll be a lot cooler enjoying a picnic at Woodward Park.

That’s because on Tuesday the Manteca City Council awarded a $202,199 bid to Haskell & Haskell Engineering & Construction Services of Knights Ferry to build a 60- by 60-foot shade structure over the picnic table area.

And it won’t be your typical proletarian shade structure. The bid includes installing decorative masonry columns supporting the roof structure. Those columns will be faced with a stone veneer.

The city is also moving forward with plans to build a $664,195 parking lot along Bridewell Avenue in the southeast corner of the park. Work is expected to start on the parking lot in 2013.

It is designed to take pressure off parking on neighborhood streets during major events taking place at Woodward Park. Funding for the two projects has already been secured through park growth fees paid when permits are taken out for new homes.

Mayor Willie Weatherford said he’s looking forward to the day when Manteca has enough money saved to complete the master plan for the northern part of the storm basin. The master plan calls for a lighted baseball field with a soccer field in the outfield along with a 1,000-seat amphitheatre designed for concerts and theatrical performances, a concession bulling with restrooms, plus a dog park just outside the basin in the northeast corner of the park.

The installation of exercise stations along the perimeter sidewalk has been proposed for funding in the 2014-15 fiscal year as part of the capital improvement plan.

The other major projects in the master plan include building eight tennis courts on the northwest corner of the entrance at Wellington Avenue and Woodward Avenue. It also includes addition parking to the west and south of the future tennis courts.

Woodward Park first opened for public use in 2005.

It is the largest municipal park at 52 acres and is one of three community parks. The others are Northgate and Lincoln Park where the city’s two other shade covered picnic areas are located. They have proven popular for family reunions and parties.

The city has 54 parks and related facilities such as the 34-acre Tidewater Bikeway green belt, the Big League Dreams sports complex, BMX track, and golf course.

“Manteca has done well when it comes to parks,” Weatherford said, noting it is unusual for a valley city the size of Manteca to have 54 parks.

Manteca’s growth policy actually mandates a heavy emphasis on neighborhood parks. The city’s general plan that serves as a blueprint for growth has a goal of having a park within a quarter of a mile walking distance of every new home built in Manteca.