Editor’s note: Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell and Bulletin photographer Hime Romero spent Friday afternoon getting a snapshot of downtown Manteca.
There are lots of things that Gary Crannell likes about Downtown Manteca.
And while it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, the longtime resident actually finds it convenient to make trips into the heart of the community to handle his business – parking along Maple Avenue on Friday morning to get a haircut, stopping in at the post office, visiting Double Stitch Embroidery and Tipton’s Stationary and Gifts – hitting each of the stores on foot as he took in a stiff breeze and the unusually warm April sunshine.
“Having everything centrally located is nice to have,” Crannell said. “There are a lot of things that can be improved down here – traffic is a problem and then there are the homeless – but there are some good businesses really close together and that makes it easy to do things that you need to get done.”
Most people think of Downtown Manteca as the intersection of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street – the confluence of the arterials that flow from one half of the city to the other. It’s where the traffic backs up, and technically right in the heart of the district that most people would consider to be Downtown Manteca if they had to look at a map.
But Maple Avenue – ironically, the only street that the City of Manteca has made one-way in an attempt to alleviate traffic and bring people downtown – is one of the only streets that is constantly bustling regardless of the day of the week.
Maybe it’s the post office that brought Crannell down. Maybe it’s the barbershop or the upscale confines of Tipton’s – truly the only store in Manteca of its kind.
It’s a destination for people like Lane – who asked not use his last name – who said that for all of the ills of Downtown Manteca, it has a charm that’s can’t quite be described.
While most people were busy finishing their workday and planning for the weekend, Lane and his dog Papa were making a pass down the Tidewater Bikeway and a quick jaunt through Library Park – where people, now famously, had congregated near the back of the gazebo and one gentleman was sleeping beneath the shade it gave on what turning out to be a hot day.
According to Lane, who said that he himself has been homeless in the past, he has a lot of the same concerns that most people do when it comes to how to make downtown a better destination.
Get rid of the bulbs and the medians and create more on-street parking and do something to alleviate the traffic that makes it a nightmare at certain times throughout the day.
Even with all of that – even with a homeless population that seems to be as much of a part of the fixture as the traffic – Lane says he’s happy coming downtown, and knows that all of those problems can be alleviated.
“I’ve been on the street myself and I can say that regardless of where I was, I didn’t leave any garbage like you see down here,” he said while pulling his dog up for a chin rub. “That’s one thing that I think really sends a bad feeling, but it doesn’t keep me from coming down the Tidewater Bikeway and visiting here – I think it’s good thing to have here in the city and it does right here into the heart of town.
“There are definitely some things I would change, but none of that changes what this place is.”
And if you’re looking for a true slice of what a small town actually is, just search out Victor Navarro and his gregarious personality and you’ll see the friendliness that quaint locations like this are famous for.
Navarro spent his Friday relaxing on the bench on Yosemite Avenue near what is technically the start of downtown.
He had a smile on his face. He had a laugh. He had things to say about the homeless and the traffic and just about everything else that Manteca residents talk about when they get bored of talking about the weather.
But he loves it here. No matter what.
“They did a really good job with the paintings that they’ve put up, and they fixed up the park and really made it nice,” he said. “Just like anything this city is a work in progress. Sometimes it takes a while to get around and it’s not always the way you want it to be, but even then it’s good. It’s home.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.