Lei Ann Larson pledges to lobby for an outdoor amphitheater and water park for the 8 acres the City of Manteca is buying on South Main Street to establish a homeless boating center.
Larson – a staunch opponent of locating any type of homeless center across the street from the neighborhood she lives in – is one of three candidates in the Nov. 8 election for mayor. The others are incumbent Ben Cantu and Councilman Gary Singh.
“Clearly the location of the homeless shelter is the wrong one for Manteca and needs to be moved,” Larson said Thursday. “While this place won’t be built tomorrow, the ideas for this property are endless. It’s what this city needs – a place that all citizens can use and reunite with their families, while generating revenue. money for the city.
Larson wants to see such a privately funded venture, made possible by endowments from Amazon and other major sites in Manteca.
While she doesn’t have a targeted seating capacity, she thinks a scaled-down version of Northern California’s largest amphitheaters will be an effective draw for family entertainment.
She sees such a place serving as a gateway project to a revitalized downtown. Larson said the traffic it would generate – between concerts and family use of the water park which could include a swimming pool and water games – could have a side effect by users frequenting downtown restaurants and other places.
Larson believes the 8-acre site is large enough for an aquatic center, an amphitheater and the parking lot needed to support entertainment activities.
The city is in the process of purchasing the site for $1,760,000 for use as a homeless navigation center as well as multi-story affordable housing with ground floor retail and/or a new police station for the city.
The land is purchased with $2 million in state transfer funds earmarked by San Joaquin County.
The money is for a homeless navigation center as well as affordable housing, any other use would require the city to return the money or else a prorated portion of it that is not used for expressed proposals attributed to it, such as part of the land used for a police station.
“Our former mayors and councilors have given us Bass Pro Shops, Big League Dreams and Great Wolf Lodge, while Mayor Cantu and Councilman Singh want to place a regional homeless center near our town centre, which will only further stifle our downtown,” Larson said. “I’ve listened to Manteca and understand that what they really want is to be able to spend their local money at home on entertainment, dining and retail.”
The cost of such a complex proposed by Larson could easily exceed $20 million.
A new aquatic center for Manteca was expected to cost $11.6 million in 2016. It was part of a package of $75 million recreation projects that never got past the discussion stage after a master plan overall parks and recreation plan for the city was developed by a paid consultant. .
The only pool owned by the city is the one in Lincoln Park. He is over 60 years old.
In 2016, the price to bring Lincoln Pool up to modern standards was estimated at $2 million. A replacement swimming pool in Lincoln Park cost $4.5 million.
Although no specific square footage was mentioned for an aquatic center, the city was looking for more than 20 acres to accommodate an aquatic center, community center, and additional playgrounds. It’s almost three times the size of the South Main Street site.
In 2016, the city identified a site on municipal property just north of the BLD complex.
At the time, it was indicated that a site that was more central and more easily accessible by the whole community was preferred.
The 8 acres on South Main Street is the largest remaining undeveloped parcel in the heart of the city.
Manteca recently received a $16 million state grant to develop a homeless navigation center specifically at the South Main Street location. The state grant makes no reference to the requirement to be a regional center for the homeless. Larson, however, believes the city would achieve this if it opted for a 299-bed facility instead of one with a significantly lower bed count.
The most recent count from January puts Manteca’s homeless population at 129. That compares to 218 three years ago.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]