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New library & city hall key to downtown
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Your comments on June 7, regarding the need to preserve and support and to construct a new public library in Manteca, echoes my long time feelings on the matter; however, I doubt that the mayor and council hear the same words within the same context.  Although a few of the key words probably did perk their ears, particularly “BLD-style solution”, a code word for betting that increased future sales tax revenue will save us.  Or, “partner with private sector firm”, code words for more fiscal resources going to private development while city amenities, such as a new library, are put off for another decade.  Yet another code word, “public-private venture”, indicating that maybe someone else can do it for us.  

I agree the current budget crisis is a structural problem; I do not, however, believe that the mayor and council can overcome the inherent old cultural way of doing business; they will simply stumble out of the corner that they painted themselves into as the economy improves at its own pace, and then they will fall in line to the next economic boom and burst. I am also concerned with allowing a private concern to manage the community’s level and quality of service; for seemingly erasing such expenses from the budget ledger in order to balance the books is shirking one’s fiscal responsibility to the community.   

What is needed, as you illustrate, is a focus on the subject and a steadfast plan to bring it to reality.  I agree that the new library should be located downtown and that RDA should be an integral component of the plan.  I am not advocating, however, another study to determine if we need a library and where it should be located; further debate on the merits of where the new library will best serve the overall community and the diverse opinions on RDA, will only perpetuate the same nonproductive outcome we have had for decades.  It is time to realign this community’s leadership with a focus, priorities, and a political will that addresses the most common needs of Manteca’s residents.

A new library and city hall, and potentially other governmental offices, have been part of my plan for the revitalization of downtown; these uses will serve as the initial infusion of a new customer base and draw to downtown.  These stable uses within walking distance, a redefinition of the downtown service area, and a reconfiguration of the traffic circulation system, will establish a commercial setting that will facilitate reinvestment and a viable retail sales and service base for business.  I also support establishing a community reinvestment consortium for downtown using the local banking industry requirements for reinvestment into the community.  Additionally, as you point out, there are a number of revenue and funding resources that can be funneled into a comprehensive plan that constructs a new library and revitalizes our downtown.  

It is a simple matter of new focused leadership and political will, the same focus and resolve that established Big League Dreams at Airport Way and Highway 120.  However, I would caution any public-private venture that reduces the availability of a public service such as the library to the level of commercial profitability.
Benjamin Cantu
June 7, 2010