Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
This is an open letter to the community regarding the impending demolition of Manteca’s elevated water tank. In the past few months I have been researching and reviewing the proposed demolition of the elevated water tank located in the city corporation yard, adjacent to the railroad tracks at South Main Street. The large, white water tank has marked the center of the community and identified Manteca to passing motorists on Highway 99 and State Route 120 since 1962.
Removal of the water tank was approved by the city council in 2006 on the basis that the water tank does not meet seismic standards. At that time, three options were under consideration. The first would leave the elevated water tank standing, but would not be used to store water. (Under today’s municipal water system, the elevated water tank is no longer needed to maintain pressure throughout the community’s water system.) Under this option as pointed out by the consulting structural engineering firm, the water tank should perform satisfactorily in the event of an earthquake. The structural engineer also noted that the water tank could serve as an aesthetic element. The second option would involve continued use of the tank for water storage and would require an approximate $2.2 million retrofit of the water tank to meet seismic standards. The third option was simply to remove the water tank structure altogether. In addition, a number of aerial communication antennas located on the supporting legs and on the tank itself would need to be relocated. These antennas facilitate improved public safety communications in the community.
Although staff noted the existence of the communication antennas and the need for their relocation elsewhere, there was no mention of the costs associated with their relocation or whether their relocation would affect the quality of the communication system. Nor, was the aesthetic factor discussed. Based on staff’s recommendation the city council simply decided to demolish the water tank. The council’s decision will cost over $100,000, plus several more thousands of dollars to relocate the communication antennas.
I believe the city council acted without giving the aesthetic factor its due consideration. Nor was proper community input sought in the process. The fourth option which would allow the water tank structure to remain and to be used as a community icon was not considered.
I recommend that the communication antennas remain located as they are, and that the $100,000 be used as seed money to paint the water tank (not the support legs) to resemble a pumpkin, so that the water tank can serve as an iconic symbol in support of Manteca’s title as the Pumpkin Capital. I challenge the city council to reverse their prior decision and to work with the community to facilitate transformation of the water tank to a regional icon. In this regard, I will personally contribute $100 towards that end.
May 23, 2011