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Troubled over Manteca veterans memorial
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
For several months, I have been troubled over the matter of the local veteran’s memorial.  The decision a few months ago to relocate the memorial from downtown and the approach taken by the City Council on the matter has been disconcerting.

I took offense to the mayor and city council’s decision to relocate the current veteran’s memorial from its downtown location to an out-of-sight and out-of-mind storm water hole-in-the-ground by the sewer treatment plant.  Rather than embrace the community voice for a new memorial, the mayor and city council took their customary easily way out.  It is simply unacceptable to relocate such an important community memorial amongst a bunch of motels and place it in or at a storm drainage basin just because the land is perhaps free or the city can make a deal with the developers.  It is this very mindset that has resulted in half-baked ideas and no appreciable community amenities for decades.

The proper response should have been to work closely with the local veteran’s organization to site the memorial so that it is a focal point and clearly visible to all passing residents of the community, not as an attraction to outsiders with little or no concern.  Instead of embracing the community-oriented veteran’s memorial project, the mayor and city council relegated the matter during the budget process, to an addendum to the public works improvement plans in progress at Milo Candini and Daniels avenues.  This memorial project should reflect the long-term visual desires of the community; the community should not be forced to settle for a lesser product today.

I have witnessed too often, where such important matters are studied and shelved, or reduced to a low priority nod in hopes “they” will go away, or reduced to meager dollars and cents.  Why is it that other communities, large and small, can have distinctive and sizeable memorials to their veterans, but Manteca must rely on a less than receptive Mayor and city council when addressing the needs and wants of the community?  This matter needs to be revisited and carried forth with the proper respect that is required.  As it stands today, I see the handling of this matter as a disservice to the community and in particular, the veterans.

Benjamin Cantu
Dec. 22, 2009


Editor’s note: The City Council earlier this year agreed to work with Manteca-based veterans groups to ultimately build a new veterans memorial after Library Park expands. The current memorial is near the entrance to the library on Center Street. The idea was to place a memorial in a more visible site near the new gazebo area.

The other proposed memorial is being incorporated into plans for San Joaquin County’s South County Administration Center planned directly across from Stadium Retail Center and Big League Dreams. It is designed to salute all of the armed forces from the Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard.