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Future Manteca park needs
$475K draft plan before planners
People use Northgate Park on Saturday. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

It is costing Manteca taxpayers $475,000 so the city can have a plan for the next 20 years about what they should do to address parks and recreation needs.

RJM Design Group will present a draft of the master plan to the Manteca Planning Commission when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Facilities needed to meet existing demand according to the consultants are:

uThree additional soccer fields to enable decreasing the usage at park sites that are currently over-programmed, and seek funding and installation of synthetic turf at selected new facilities.

The city is in the process of developing a family entertainment zone west of Big League Dreams that includes a number of multi-use fields that will accommodate soccer as well as one field within a stadium with seating.

uTwo indoor youth basketball courts.

The city still has some unused hours with joint-use gyms put in place with the Manteca Unified School District at various elementary campuses. In addition there are non-joint use multi-purpose facilities/gyms at elementary schools that could possibly be used for such purposes.

uOne additional swimming pool.

Several council members and school board trustees have mentioned a willingness to consider arrangements for the municipal recreation program to “rent” an existing high school pool to program summer swimming including open pool as they once did over 10 years ago at East Union High. The city now uses Manteca High’s swimming pool for some swimming lessons, adult recreation lap swimming, and some water recreation classes such as introduction to scuba diving.

Among the recommended facilities for future demand are:

uAdditional youth baseball fields.

uAdditional youth softball fields.

uAdditional multi-sports long fields for soccer, football, rugby, and lacrosse with emphasis on synthetic turf opportunities at future facilities.

uAdditional multi-use jogging/walking/bicycling trails, and for equestrian use when practical and connecting with other equestrian trails.

uTwo additional indoor basketball courts.

uOne additional swimming pool.

uFour additional tennis courts.

Of the future needs, the FEZ multi-use playing fields have been identified for such purposes.

Also, the city has a 20-mile bike path system plan that is partially in place that is designed to encircle Manteca with remaining links built by developers as growth occurs. The current paths in place from Airport Way on Del Webb’s western boundary that goes east to the Tidewater makes it way to Atherton Drive where it splits in two directions toward Woodward Avenue and Main Street with temporary endings waiting growth. There are already two spurs in place — Spreckels Avenue and Wellington Avenue to reach Woodward Park. In additional a number of approved and proposed neighborhoods south of the 120 Bypass have bike trails as part of their design.

The consultants told the council last year during an interim report that phone surveys showed Manteca residents interviewed the biggest short comings of the municipal park system was the lack of a teen center and a water park. Neither was listed as a future need in the proposed master plan.

Residents were most concerned

about homeless in city parks

Among the non-facility recommendations to meet current and future demand:

uIncrease volunteer opportunities in park, trail, and open-space operations.

uPursue additional public-private partnerships to provide expanded recreational programs.

uEmphasize opportunities for improved trail connectivity.

uEncourage more on-site recreational facilities within new residential developments.

Despite the fact phone surveys and policy workshops conducted by the consulting firm where residents said their biggest negative issues with city parks were the homeless, the list of recommendations contains  nothing about that. Citizens, according to a report the consultant made last year to the City Council,  said their least favorite parks were Northgate and Library parks due to unpleasant encounters with the homeless.

Recommendations regarding park facility maintenance items:

uImprove irrigation systems to increase water-conservation capabilities.

uParking lot paving improvements.

uContinue Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant renovations to existing facilities.

The future needs are based on projections Manteca will have 87,741 residents in 2020, 97,410 in 2025, 107,766 in 2030, and 117,010 in 2035. The consultant obtained those estimates from the San Joaquin Council of Governments. Current population is around 74,000 based on the California Department of Finance estimates and home occupancy permits issued by the City of Manteca. In order for Manteca to reach 87,471 residents by 2020 the city would need to grow by 13,000 residents over the next four years or at a rate three times the current growth pattern.

Why that discrepancy may matter is the consultant being paid by the city is projecting facility needs based on future population.

The consultant also points out the population is aging yet senior-specific facility needs are not addressed. 

The report — in its most simplest form — meets state requirements that Manteca have a general plan that is essentially a blueprint for growth and supporting documents such as a housing element. What is critical to actually charged fees on growth to pay for its legal fair share of future recreation facilities is a nexus study regarding costs of needed or desired recreational facilities. The $4575,000 report doesn’t address that. 

So before the city can start collecting appropriate fees to pay for future recreation facilities the council must first formerly identify what facilities will be needed —  the report simply recommends needs — and then they have to hire another consultant to come up with costs and pro-rate what each facility can legally be charged off to growth in the form of fees.

City Council ‘s identified

long-range recreation needs

not included in draft plan

The Manteca Parks and Recreation Master Plan as proposed does not address library needs that some consider the bailiwick of municipal recreation.

Nor does it mention other parks and recreation needs totaling $52 million the council has adopted as  deferred projects beyond the five-year funding horizon of the municipal capital improvement program.

Those  facilities are a performing/visual arts center for $18 million, a community center for $16 million, an aquatics center as opposed to simply a swimming pool for $16 million, and an amphitheater at Woodward Park for $1.9 million. The library is listed as a $33 million project.

Two projects the proposed master plan does address are on that deferred project list. They are a Woodward Park, baseball field for $1.6 million and the Woodward Park tennis enter for $4.1 million.

The master plan being reviewed notes Manteca has 483.13 acres dedicated to park and recreation uses: 212.973 acres of neighborhood parks, 90.94 acres for special sues such as Big League Dreams as well as the BMX track and skate park among others, 78.46 acres  of community parks, and 101 acres at the golf course. While the city often refers to the Tidewater Bikeway as a linear park the consultant opted to list those four acres as not being part of the overall park site total.

The consultants  concluded Manteca needs an additional 21.26 acres of parks to serve its current residents based on City Council adopted standards of service.

By 2035 that deficit will increase to 241.91 acres if no additional parks were put in place.

The consultant concludes that current recreation facilities such as softball and baseball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, swimming pool, indoor basketball facilities, senior center and library are either exactly where they should be in terms of the number of each particular facility or there is slightly more or less.

If no additional facilities are added by 2035, Manteca will be short 3.9 softball fields, 11.2 baseball fields, 4.1 football fields, 15.8 soccer fields, 1.3 swimming pools, 4.2 tennis courts, 1.3 indoor basketball facilities, 0.4 community centers, and 0.4 libraries.

The report makes no reference to the adequacy of existing facilities. Instead it simply inventories them. That’s why a number of people  at workshops argued the senior center and library, for example, are inadequate for even current needs.