I essentially grew up at the Oakwood Lake waterslides.
That’s not hyperbole, or an understatement.
When I think back about my time growing up in Manteca, and my mind drifts to any of those summers when the mercury hit triple digits, Oakwood Lake nearly always comes to mind – whether it was trips with my parents when I was too young to go on my own, or the entire summers that I spent going nearly every day (again, not hyperbole) with my friends on the season pass that my parents always bought us for Christmas.
Even as I got older, and entered high school, we would take trips after football practice ended, or even before so that we could relax before the grueling summer workouts. Floating through a lagoon will do that.
It is at this point I’m shaking my head at how warped my idea of “relaxing” was back then – the thought of spending any prolonged amount of time at a water park today just gives me anxiety.
So, when I read arguments from people online against Great Wolf because it “isn’t going to replace the Manteca waterslides,” I always want to reply with the same comment – they’re not trying to be. A destination resort is not the same thing as a water amusement park – which Oakwood Lake was – that started out as nothing more than an attraction for campground guests and grew to become a part of Northern California history. They aren’t comparable.
And having a working understanding of what Oakwood Lake and those waterslides actually were is important when people try and use them to mount an argument as to why Great Wolf shouldn’t be a part of Manteca.
Another popular refrain is that the slides at Great Wolf won’t be “open to the public” without any other clarification as to what that means. I’m forced to conclude that they’re referring to the fact that not everybody can use them. From what I understand, that’s not true – anybody can book a room at the hotel, which is being constructed by a company that’s investing north of $250 million to build the site, and claim their passes to access the slides themselves. Much the same way that Oakwood Lake required a wristband and not anybody could walk off the street and into those sweet, twisting tubes, it’s going to take a small financial investment to be able to enjoy these waterslides as well.
“But they’re so expensive!” Actually, they aren’t. If you consider the cost of the room itself – which sleeps a minimum of four people as many as 12 – with a starting price of $300, and factor in that it includes a pass for the day that you arrive that is good at the time of check in, and a pass for the day that you check out that’s good until the park closes, it’s actually somewhat of a bargain. Find a hotel room in Southern California as nice as what Great Wolf is planning to build, and then factor in the cost, per person, for two days at a water park and get back to me. I’ll wait.
Tragedy strikes Weston Ranch
On Tuesday afternoon, a 9-year-old girl was walking home from August Knodt elementary school with a family member when she was struck by a motorist.
She died hours later after being airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center.
The entire ordeal is absolutely horrifying. I can’t begin to comprehend what the family of that young girl is going through in this moment. To know that you’ll never see your child smile at you again has to be, I would assume, a pain that can’t be accurately described.
So when I was reading the reaction from people in Weston Ranch, and speaking to a few others, I was surprised to hear that there aren’t very many crosswalks in the South Stockton community. The fact that Weston Ranch is largely self-contained would give you the impression that it’s a family-friendly place, and that mobility for students would include safe access to elementary school sites – especially the first one that was ever built inside of the tract.
But apparently that isn’t the case.
I had a brief conversation with Manteca Unified Assistant Superintendent Clark Burke Wednesday afternoon, who was predictably still reeling about the news. I asked him about what the district’s options are when it comes to advocating for crosswalks along heavily traveled routes to give students a safe route to what is supposed to be a safe place.
The district has a close working relationship with the City of Manteca, and even though Weston Ranch falls under the City of Stockton’s oversight, administrators and even the Board of Education have had dialogue about how to correct what is seen in the neighborhood as somewhat of a problem.
In December the board voted to endorse Stockton’s plan for safe school routes. According to Burke just this week another meeting was scheduled to be held to address those issues.
An open line of dialogue was present. Discourse was happening. But, unfortunately, it didn’t happen soon enough to prevent tragedy — assuming a crosswalk in place would have avoided the accident — from striking that girl’s family, August Knodt, and the larger Weston Ranch community as a whole.
I don’t think there’s any blame to be placed here. The fact that the district was backing Stockton’s efforts to do this – they don’t have any legal standing to do things like build crosswalks on city streets on their own – shows that an effort was being made to correct the issue.
It’s just another tragically ironic layer heaped on top of a heartbreaking story that shouldn’t ever have to be told.
My heart goes out to her family, and to anybody affected by this tragedy.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.