During the last Modesto General Plan update a little over a decade ago, while serving on the Modesto City Council, I proposed removing the Beckwith Triangle from the updated plan.
My rationale was that the Triangle was isolated from the rest of the community and separated by a freeway that makes infrastructure expensive to provide. The other even better argument was that the area was on the world’s best farm land.
I was unable to convince the Council I served with to make the change. But I never dreamed that a future Council would be even more outrageous and add Wood Colony to the map.
The overwhelming majority of Wood Colony citizens do not wish their community to be added to the map. If you poll a majority of Modesto’s citizens, your constituents, you would find few who support adding Wood Colony to the map. So why do you want to upset so many people?
The few supporters of adding Wood Colony to Modesto’s map say that the area is needed for an industrial park. The Chamber of Commerce says the land needs to be shovel-ready now. Really? How many acres do you think you can get for a business park right now from Wood Colony land owners?
The same supporters say that Wood Colony is needed because it’s near Highway 99, providing excellent transportation infrastructure for a business park. But Modesto has the Pelandale Expressway and the State Route 219 Expressway to link a business park on the lesser quality soils on the east side of town to Highway 99, an excellent transportation alternative. There is more open space on east side undeveloped land. Wouldn’t the east side be a better location to develop a shovel-ready project?
The other piece of infrastructure supposedly supporting Wood Colony as an industrial park is State Route 132. A Cal Trans engineer told me last year that it will probably take 20 or more years for a freeway to be built to Interstate 5. Cal Trans hasn’t even figured out yet how to remove the toxic waste piles from the existing right of way it owns.
If you want to engage in an expensive, unpopular, long term pitched battle to obtain Wood Colony for annexation into the City of Modesto, then vote in favor of putting it into Modesto’s General Plan. If you waste taxpayer money fighting this battle your popularity will fall below the approval rating presently enjoyed by the United States Congress.
If you vote to put Wood Colony on the General Plan Map of Modesto, expect every future Council to be given the opportunity to remove Wood Colony plus the Beckwith Triangle from the map. Only 4 Council members will be needed to remove Wood Colony and Beckwith Triangle from the map at a later date. Those same Council members would probably decide to establish long overdue permanent urban limit lines and end the relentless taking of farm land.
There is an easy way and a hard way to promote economic development. Adding Wood Colony is the hard way. Now, please do the right thing.