Are you made of money?
If not, then when you cast your ballot for Manteca Unified board trustees and Manteca City Council members Nov. 8 make sure the people that get your vote are willing to step outside their respective fiefdoms to maximize your hard earned dollars taken from you in the form or taxes, fees or whatever euphemisms they can whip up.
There is no reason why the next high school being planned on Tinnin Road in South Manteca needs a $5 million swimming complex at the same time the City needs a $5 million swimming complex. All Manteca Unified comprehensive high schools have swimming pools. The parks masterplan the city is working on calls for another swimming pool in the coming years.
There is no overlap in use times. The school uses its swimming pool during the school week. The city uses theirs on weekends and during the summer.
So why should taxpayers be saddled with two $5 million swimming pools (assuming they can be built that cheap), plus interest and maintenance especially when one is idle while the other is in use and vice versa?
Libraries are next on the list. Why does South Manteca need two good-sized libraries — one for the future high school and one as a second city branch?
City councils for the past 20 or so years have had a hard time stomaching paying the price for a library despite repeatedly insisting it’s a priority.
Manteca Unified and the City of Stockton have demonstrated that a joint library can work. The library at New Vision High is saving taxpayers a lot of money. First, there was a million or so dollars that went unspent by not duplicating facilities. And instead of staffing two libraries and their collections and equipment twice, it was only done once. Obviously there may be some higher costs for an expanded collection but it would be miniscule.
Assuming the figure of $500,000 to staff and maintain a collection for a branch library would be higher than an alternative high school library, a combined operation would still have a net savings to taxpayers. Let’s say its $150,000. In just under seven years, $1 million would be saved with a joint-use library in South Manteca at a Manteca Unified campus. That would be in addition to the $1 million plus cost avoidance by not building a duplicate library. Keep in mind the Moffat Community Center completed last year cost $1.3 million, so a $1 million savings is on the low side.
A performing arts center is another possible joint use venture.
The Manteca High Theatre Arts building is in need of upgrades that may be done with Measure G Bond money. Given its location on Yosemite Avenue in downtown it could easily double as a fairly intimate community venue. While it is doubtful the basic seating area can be expanded, additional structures could be added for storage and — heaven forbid — space for static art studios.
Manteca’s masterplan’s want list has a community center and performing arts center on it.
First, let’s be practical. Do we really need a community center especially if the city ultimately wrangles a resort with a conference center? Most community center have large areas for dinners, dances and such much like the MRPS Hall, the Manteca Transit Center, and the Moffat Community Center and a host of others. A conference center would yield significantly more space for such activities.
If an effort continues to establish joint-use multipurpose rooms at elementary schools with small gyms it could be taken a step further and space built specifically for recreation classes 100 percent on the city’s dime. Spending $250,000 or so on such an arrangement at decentralized locations in neighborhoods is certainly a lot cheaper than forking over $12 million for a community center at a centralized location.
If the city puts some skin in the game — a percentage of the renovation costs for the Manteca High performing arts center or part of new construction costs for a swimming pool or funding for staffing such as for the library it takes things way beyond the current relationship between the two government agencies.
It nails down facilities for community use while at the same time avoiding duplicating facilities.
Basically, there is no need for a community center if the concept is de-centralized into the neighborhoods and a conference center is built. At the same time Manteca needs to start out slow with a performing arts center.
By a partnership that converts the corner of the Manteca High campus at Garfield Avenue and Yosemite Avenue into a true performing and static arts center by wedding school and city money you extend what Measure G can do for students and give the community what it has lacked for the past 98 years — a performing and static arts center.
As standalone entities the school district and city have done a herculean job at keeping costs down and getting as much mileage as possible from tax dollars.
If they took it a step further and entered true partnerships for joint use of specific facilities it would provide even more opportunities for students and better opportunities for the community without duplicating facilities and upkeep costs.
And just as important taxpayers won’t be hammered twice for the same thing with one facility idle while the other is being used.
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 email@example.com or 209.249.3519.