Now that the Manteca City Council and the top tier of city bureaucrats are gearing up to take a victory lap over the pending Great Wolf deal, let’s hope they hear the grumbling about not forgetting about Manteca residents.
No, this is not a reference to those that believe Great Wolf is your run-of-the-mill waterpark and that this is 2018 and not 2004 so therefore they should have access to the indoor waterpark for $10.99. They need to see whether they can use the swimming pool at the Disneyland Resort hotel without booking a room while also checking out the cost to dip your toes at Raging Waters. Great Wolf based on what it is and how it is operated does not exclude Manteca residents nor is it more expensive than traditional waterpark based on person per day cost. Instead of hyperventilating, get a room.
The grumblings those running the city should heed is the uneasiness that more than a few are voicing that Manteca may not be for Mantecans as it grows.
Whether that is the case, there are more than a few thinking it. One resident, who made it clear despite her concerns she would not live anywhere else, expressed in an email that she felt city leaders might as well as change Manteca’s name to “Bass Pro Land, Big League Dreams Land, or now that we’re getting Great Wolf, Great Wolf Land.”
This is not a sentiment — as some running for elected office this time around may read — for better street upkeep, more police, or a need to deliver on long overdue amenities. Rather it is a perception Manteca is being developed in a way where snaring visitors dollars to provide ample funds for the city staff paychecks and future raises takes precedent over making Manteca more livable for Mantecans.
Yes, the dollars are key to providing services for city residents
Such sentiments would seem to have no basis when you take a long look at Bass Pro that is a super-sized specialty store with a loyal base that wants to experience the kid-in-a-candy-store feeling as opposed to order touch or mouse clicks or BLD that is the haunt of locals Monday through Friday.
Great Wolf — nicely segregated by itself on the south side of the future extension of Daniels Street to McKinley Avenue from the rest of the FEZ — is a destination resort. It is not the problem.
The problem is the apparent emphasis of the rest of the planned 180 acres of family entertainment zone to be developed first and foremost to snare visitor dollars.
The first subtle clue is how the city either by accident or by deferring decisions to templates hawked by consultants has deemed the Daniels Street extension will cater to those coming off the 120 Bypass to seek food and fun as to those from Manteca that might venture there. Class II on-the-street bike lanes are a state standard for such streets. Separated bicycle paths such as the Tidewater are what cities pursue to make communities more livable for residents.
It’s not a small deal. It underscores how the entire FEZ concept hatched by staff is a Johnny-Come-Lately idea only after those in charge rejected a $10 million proposal to build a traditional waterpark on city land and decided to go big.
The FEZ obviously could be a major focal point — if not the focal point — of people living here. The idea of a manmade lake with a promenade and such conjured up the idea of an urban oasis that residents flock is the same general concept as Santana Row in San Jose, Lake Merritt in Oakland, Lodi Lake in Lodi or Old Sacramento in Sacramento. While some such as Old Sacramento make get billing as a tourist trap, it still developed as an effective modern-day town square, if you will, for Sacramento residents more so than any mall, Cal Expo, or downtown.
The last and final Manteca redevelopment agency bonds that generated $42 million for projects including the infrastructure that was put in place that the FEZ and Great Wolf will access mentioned one potential use for the bond proceeds was the possible spending of $2 million for community parks.
Imagine if the FEZ was developed in a manner that made it a major community gathering place just like a community park is first and foremost. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t employ many of the same uses that are now envisioned. What it does mean is that it would be developed in such a manner it is designed with Manteca residents in mind and not simply in such a way to lure visitors and their money.
Not building a separated bike path on the north side of Daniels Street when the city executes a requirement of the Great Wolf deal within the next two years to extend that street makes it clear that what development wants and not what city residents desire — and in many cases have been promised — matters most.
Is the idea of a separated bike path system that actually gets people in Manteca to where they’d want to go passé or did it simply not pop up on the screen in the push to land Great Wolf?
This is not the fault of Great Wolf but rather a failing of city leadership to keep an eye on the ball that counts as Manteca develops. And that ball is the one that is bounced day in and day out by the people who live here.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.