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Of water towers, Manteca icons & gigantic flags
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Evelyn Burton has a point.

The Manteca resident left a phone message to weigh in on “The Great Pumpkin” debate about whether to paint the 50-year-old water tower on Wetmore Street as a pumpkin in homage to Manteca’s dominance of pumpkin production in California.

She thought it was a “wonderful idea” but pondered whether it was the absolute best representation of Manteca. She thought that perhaps a giant baseball given Manteca’s huge draw with Big League Dreams might be appropriate.

In any case, she feels that the city should conduct some type of poll - or seek community input - before making a decision regarding any theme painting of the water tower assuming it will be standing for much longer.

Her remarks underscore what’s wrong with the entire discussion. There are three separate issues: The water system and the need to pressurize it, communications, and the creation of a Manteca icon.

They are not intertwined.

And let’s be honest. No one would care much about the water tower if it wasn’t attached to the desire by some to have a Manteca icon. And what the cell tower looks like probably wouldn’t bother anyone much if there wasn’t a proposal to plop a 20-foot flag pole on top of it since it would draw attention to the steel super structure that looks like an oil derrick.

Water pressure has been improved tremendously in the central city thanks to new pipelines, the infusion of surface water, and the city’s move to separate irrigation wells for parks. The water tower on Wetmore hasn’t held 300,000 gallons to pressurize the system for years. The city has set aside a location for the next water tank/tower along Atherton Drive just north of Woodward Avenue and west of Moffat Boulevard.

As for communications why erect a new 140-foot tower when there is already a tower in place? Just have Metro PCS put their antennae on top with the others. Let them do it now and go back later and make tower repairs, strip off the lead paint and repaint it. The money from the lease can pay for the work. It would eliminate the cost of a new tower and the cost of tearing down a tower.

Given the case made that a tri-pod or an oil derrick-style cell tower is much safer in regards to dealing with strong winds why put something up that is progressively uglier than what is already in place? Cell towers by their nature look intrusive. Water towers are less so especially when they’ve been part of the skyline for 50 years.

As far as a giant flag let’s make it mean something. Putting an 80-foot flag pole outside the new corporation yard as suggested by staff to address wishes expressed by the council doesn’t make sense. First, the location isn’t exactly high profile. But more important it should be placed somewhere that has meaning such as at the Armed Service memorial the city has proposed on municipal property near Big League Dreams.

Maybe the Armed Services tribute off Daniels Street should be put on the park project list ahead of the creation of a parking lot on the isolated southeast corner of Woodward Park that will get little use and probably won’t stop people from parking in nearby neighborhoods.

As for the icon: Do what Ripon did.

That doesn’t mean put in the most massive water towers you can find although the twin towers certainly identify the Almond Capital of the World plus Mistlin Sports Park to motorists on Highway 99 and those flying over.

Ripon’s water towers work as a calling card to identify the community because of where they are located.

Instead of a tank, perhaps a water tower should go along Atherton Drive where it would be highly visible to both Highway 99 and 120 Bypass traffic. Since this isn’t going to happen overnight, there would be time to decide if it should do double duty as an icon for Manteca.

One style of water tower could easily be “disguised” as against pumpkin such as the style on Wetmore Street.

Another type could easily be made to look like a baseball or even a soccer ball.

The point is if the community really wants a water tower as an icon some thought should go into what that icon should be as well as the location.

The best thing the council can do tonight is to keep the Wetmore water tower in place, put the cell antennae on top of it, and keep moving forward on the future water tank/tower site.

The council can have a committee explore whether the next water tower should serve as an icon and if so what that icon should be.

And if there is a cry and a hue - and the money raised before the painting has to be done - the existing water tower could still be made into a pumpkin.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.