It’s time for the City of Manteca to sell Garfield Avenue between Moffat Boulevard and Mikesell Street to the Manteca Unified School District.
There are a number of reasons why this is a sound move. It would:
uenhance Manteca High security and safety.
umake it possible to expand Winter Gym.
uincrease the size of the campus and give the district more options when it comes to modernization.
The City of Manteca has a vested interest in making sure Manteca High stays viable for another 96 years given the fact it is a gathering place for the community as well as for all practical purposes part of downtown.
It is in the best interest of everyone — the city, the school district, future students, and the taxpayers — that discussions between the city and school district start now so that in a year or so when Manteca Unified gets into specifics for modernizing the campus with Measure G bond money the best possible outcome can be secured.
The section of Garfield Avenue does not have any houses along it. Other than for school traffic or school activities, the street gets little use.
It cuts the campus in two — with classrooms and athletic fields to the east.
The money the city earns from selling the segment of Garfield could go back to the school district in partnership with modernization projects at the Manteca High campus. The city could get set hours of use for its investment much like at community gyms such as the one at the Golden West School campus.
There are several potential partnerships.
Manteca High is contiguous to Lincoln Park which in turn is contiguous to Lincoln School. Manteca High already uses the city’s baseball field at Lincoln Park for junior varsity baseball games.
The City of Manteca’s Lincoln Park swimming pool is woefully inadequate for a city of 74,000. Manteca High’s swimming pool is inadequate for a high school in the year 2016.
If part of the Manteca High modernization plan involves a new swimming pool, whatever money the city receives for the fair value of Garfield Avenue can go toward offsetting the cost in exchange for the city having the right to use it for its summer swim programs while covering maintenance during that time period. It’s a perfect fit. Summer swim doesn’t start until after high school is out and ends before it starts up. Besides, why have two swimming pools used part-time when you can one that is used year round? The city also could cover the cost of a “wading pool” for younger kids if it is agreeable to both sides.
Another option would be to put the city’s share from the sale of a segment of Garfield Avenue toward modernization of the Dorothy Mulvihill Theatre. Again, perhaps the city could sweeten the pot a bit. In exchange the city could get first right to use the theatre after school events are scheduled as well as in the summer. Think about it. Manteca could have a community theatre within walking distance of the heart of downtown and without duplicate facilities being built. Besides, Manteca doesn’t need an 800-seat community performing arts center yet. It needs to grow into it. This would be a perfect opportunity to jumpstart community-based performing arts through the Parks and Recreation Department.
Should a partnership with a swimming pool or the performing arts center not work out, the city could use the cash it gets from selling Garfield Avenue to place Tidewater-style street lights and street furnishings such as trash receptacles and benches along Yosemite Avenue in front of Manteca High.
That way Manteca High’s modernization — especially if it includes bringing back the bell tower in one form or another — could blend seamlessly into downtown.
There’s a lot at stake for both Manteca Unified School District and Manteca High in not only upgrading the campus but to make sure it is safe and secure
Besides, the city has already made it clear they understand there is a serious safety issue on Garfield Avenue. It is why it allows the school to chain off part of that segment of Garfield Avenue during school hours so students don’t have to contend with vehicle traffic to go from one side of the campus to the other. Before that, they had stop signs placed mid-block.
As it is, having a street run through a high school campus is not an ideal situation.
Manteca and the school district cannot only make a bad situation good but a lot better by selling the street in conjunction with a partnership effort to encourage more community use of Manteca High facilities.
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.