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Time for city & school leaders to worry about community & not building fiefdoms
site C

There are three conceptual plans being floated to use as the premise to get voters to approve the City of Manteca’s first modern-era general obligation bond perhaps as early as the 2020 election to secure $40 million or so to build recreational facilities.

Site “A” puts eight full-size multi-use fields, a gym, swimming pool, and other amenities on city-owned land north of Big League Dreams and south of the wastewater treatment plant.

Site “B” creates five full-size multi-use fields, a gym, and a swimming pool on the northeast corner of Milo Candini Drive and Daniels Street across from BLD and Stadium Retail Center.

Site “C” places two baseball fields, a new swimming pool, and gym where Lincoln Park and the open fields at Lincoln School now used for Manteca Little League are located.

At one point there was talk between the school district and city that centered on a joint use concept around the Lincoln Pool-Lincoln School site. The response to the initial proposal by the school district wasn't forthcoming prompting the school district to look at other options to make sure Manteca High has a swimming pool given the current one is being ripped out this summer to make room for a new gym and campus expansion to accommodate growth.

The school district is now looking at a replacement pool where the existing small gym is located.

To back up a moment, whether the city expressed a large degree of enthusiasm or not in meetings with school staff about a joint use complex in connection with the Manteca High campus, the city has since come with Site “C” that is a joint use approach.

The city and school district have different degrees of urgency. The first phase of Manteca High campus work is targeted to start this summer and is tied into bond work for modernization and safety. The “buying power” of the bond proceeds grows weaker with each passing year thanks to construction inflation. The city isn’t likely to commit to anything for a while given the earliest possible bond election they can aim for is in 2020.

What spurred the relook by the district should give the city pause. School officials are driven by two concerns: Getting the maximum out of available tax dollars and a real concern that if they could not find a way to build the swimming pool with existing money it would risk Manteca High not being a compete campus for its students in terms of support facilities if a bond election for schools did not pass when it is placed on the ballot in 2020 or 2022.

The swimming pool where it is being proposed now at Manteca High won’t be built until the second or third phase of the 2 to 3 year revamp of the campus that is about to get underway. That means there could still be time to make the Site “C” joint-use site viable. If the city commits to that option the school district could place the swimming pool there. The city, when it secures funding, could then tear out the Lincoln Pool, build the gym and add a wading pool.

There is another option.

The city could drop its plans to build a new swimming pool and enter into an agreement with the school district to have control of the new Manteca High swimming pool from May through August picking up all operating costs during that time period as well as agree to cover one-third of annual maintenance costs and one-third of future upgrades or rehabilitation costs.

If in order to make the pool work at that proposed new Manteca High location for community use requires separate small scale pool changing rooms with restrooms and a separate entrance that would be on the city’s dime. As for a wading pool if it could be included at a future date in a manner that works for all parties, that would also be at the city’s expense and 100 percent their responsibility to maintain.

Of course, a “true” community pool that includes a wading pool may not work at the new Manteca High location. But having a pool that the community can use without a wading pool isn’t the end of the world.

Having the new pool at Manteca High set up for community use from the get go with the city as a partner has a lot of pluses. It would require a city outlay for changing rooms and perhaps a separate entrance so the rest of the campus can be secured during the summer.

Such a plan would eliminate $8 million or so in costs to build the city’s own pool that would sit idle when the school pool is in use and vice versa. It would also be accessed directly from a parking lot and drop off zone. As far as picking up a third of operating and future major maintenance/upgrades of a new pool at Manteca High, the city would incur those costs anyway. Partnering with the school, future big dollar pool needs would cost the city a third of what they would face with their own pool.

It is clear an aquatics center per se is an item that may be too costly for Manteca to stomach given a long list of other pressing needs from a new police station and city hall to interchange projects that aren’t funded.

That doesn’t even touch a crushing list of parks and  recreation upgrades and once promised facilities at existing parks such as tennis courts and an amphitheater at Woodward Park that have yet to be built. Nor does it include the $750,000 needed to make the water play feature at Library Park meet new health and water use standards imposed by the state.

It makes sense for the city to drop a swimming pool from its plans, enter into a long-term use agreement for the new Manteca High swimming pool and include upgrades to the water play feature instead in a proposed bond issue.

They might also want to re-evaluate whether it is worth $10 million or so for the city to have 100 percent control of its own gym or if it is more cost effective to work in use around school usage at six (large and small) high school gyms and four community gyms.

Better yet since swimming pools and gyms aren’t exactly in short supply in Manteca, maybe the elements being cobbled together for a $40 million bond issue could morph the proposed community gym into a teen center built around a gym complete with a skate park that rivals — or exceeds — what Ripon or Lathrop offers.

If the city goes with Site “A” north of the BLD complex and makes additional improvements to the proposed Manteca High pool to make it suitable for community use as well as agree to pick up a third of all future renovation costs and such, it can do so without an $8 million or so swimming pool. That “savings” then could go toward morphing the gym into a complex that is part of a top-notch teen center complete with skate park, remove the Lincoln swimming pool, and make the $425,000 water play feature designed for kids  at Library Park be able to be used more than a couple days a week for just a few hours.

That way Manteca — and by that the community collectively and not Manteca defined separately by the city or the school district — get the most bang for limited dollars.

The only thing that having four 25-meter swimming pools in Manteca with three owned by the school sitting idle while the city pool is in use and vice versa as well as adding a 11th gym to the overall count in Manteca does is feed a fiefdom race.