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Cantu: Keep Woodward Avenue four lanes
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin
I read the Woodward Avenue 4-lane article with great interest, particularly since the width and alignment of Woodward Avenue has been an integral part of this community’s planning for the lands south of State Route 120 for decades.  Each general plan for the past 30 years has provided that Woodward Avenue would develop to a 4-lane roadway that would extend from McKinley Avenue to Austin Road.  In fact, there are many segments of that roadway plan already built to the 4-lane standard.  

My concern with this discussion revolves around three important factors.  First, does it ready make sense to change a long-term plan at mid-stream?  The development of new lands is not an overnight process; it takes decades to see adopted plans come to fruition and the benefits of that plan to be realized.  Altering these plans mid-stream because there is a change of administration or a downturn in the market or a difficult budget to manage is unrelated with the long-term planning of community growth.  Long-term plans by definition are meant to be the stabilizing element in the face of the challenging short term and cyclical anomalies that occur more frequently.

Second, the cost and profit factors are raised in the article.  These particular reasons are far too often the driving force behind altering or cutting short well laid out plans, delaying projects for a better time, or terminating projects altogether because funds are deficient today.  I have seen too many well-planned and needed projects downsized or phased (for a better economic day) or set aside at the on-set because “it cost too much.”  This is the reason why the new Highway 99 overpass at Yosemite Avenue does not have landscaping, why improvements to downtown were superficial, why the library continues to tolerate cramp quarters, why implementing the purple pipeline to provide irrigation waters to State Route 120 landscaping and city parks has gone no where, why portables are installed and city hall offices remodeled almost annually, and so on.  Cost is an important factor, of course, but profit is not.  Since the city is a non-profit organization, reducing development costs should not be a factor in this case.  There are other effective means of reducing the price of housing that do not involve the city once again giving up much needed amenities.

Finally, I am concerned that an administration at city hall with less than two years, more or less, of experience with or residency in this community, has the inherent capability to determine the long-term planning future of this community.  Certainly, putting a “canned plan” together from professional experiences is an easy and straightforward process, and gathering a few thoughts from the community is good, but is that sufficient reason to begin to excise parts or all of an adopted long-term plan that has yet to be realized.  I urge the Council to be the stabilizing element in the face of the challenging short-term anomalies that occur when administrations change.  Take hold of the helm and focus those mental resources and governmental experiences towards bringing about the long time missing community amenities.

If the reason behind the lack of many of the community amenities remains the same today as it did three decades ago, then perhaps the culture and the focus at city hall and the council needs altering.  We do not need another study; the community is waiting for action.
Benjamin Cantu
July 23, 2009