The Measure L half-cent sales tax well has proved to be more of a gusher than expected. The city received $1,454,335 in Measure L money for Fiscal Year 2018/19, according to Deputy City Manager Andrew Keys. “This is above … our final budget projection of $1.2 million,” he says. There is no official estimate of how much the Measure will produce for the 2019\20 fiscal year, but officials will be meeting soon with a sales tax advisor to come up with a projection. … What if you rebuilt it and nobody came? We all know the old Zupo Field bleachers and press box was torched a few weeks ago, and that a couple of kids are alleged to be the culprits. The city will receive about $400,000 from insurance if they walk away from it and don’t rebuild. If the city does choose to rebuild, insurance will pay significantly more, according to City Manager Steve Schwabauer. It will be up to the city council to decide what to do next: rebuild and restore it to its once glorious past, when Lodi sported a professional baseball team, or do something else there?

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Six hundred bike riders took to the roads around Lodi last Sunday as part of the Giro D’Vino Bike Ride. The annual event started and finished at Michael David Winery and cyclists pedaled approximately 40 miles through wine country, visiting about 11 local wineries along the way. The event is sponsored by MDW Sports, which is “a nonprofit organization started in 2017, sponsoring organized sporting events as well as professional, amateur and recreational athletes, locally and abroad.” … Also last weekend the LodiHeros organization staged their (almost) annual “Heros Behind the Badge” fun run on Saturday at Jessie’s Grove Winery on Turner at Davis Roads. The grass-roots group sponsors such activities in order to raise funds to benefit our “beloved law enforcement officers,” the Lodi Police Department in particular. Over $31,000 has been raised to date by the organization.

THIS ‘N THAT: The construction fencing has gone up around the old Vine and Branches Bible store building at 110 W. Oak, across from Bank of America. There are big plans for the site, which will be turned into the Oxford Kitchen and Gastropub, last we heard. Downtown Lodi continues to evolve as a regional destination for visitors and locals alike. Twenty years ago half the storefronts were vacant. Now, vacancies don’t last long. Maybe the yellow sidewalks are the reason why? … A new sign has gone up in front of the old Woodbridge Inn, which was purchased by Jim and Annette Murdaca, who also own Pietro’s on Kettleman Lane. The Inn will now be known as Murdaca’s. The fabled restaurant will be totally renovated, according to Jim, but he’s still waiting on the county for a building permit. His best estimate for opening is second quarter of 2020 — he hopes. When it does open it will be a traditional Italian steak house, we’re told. … If you want to avoid virtually all human contact when ordering pizza, try Little Caesar’s on Ham Lane. Just order and pay online, then when you go to pick it up simply scan the barcode you receive via email at the kiosk inside, and out pops your pizza. Maybe Lodi’s first robo (pizza) restaurant? While it may not be the best pizza you’ve ever tasted, it could be the best large $10 pizza you’ve ever tried, humanly speaking. … Last episode we mentioned that Terry and Toni Clark bought the Sunset and Alexander’s buildings on Lodi Avenue. Their buying spree didn’t end there. They’ve also purchased the Pet Supplies Plus property at Kettleman and Stockton, and the building at 14-16 W. Pine Street in downtown, where Pret is today. Major renovations are planned for the Pine Street property, which dates back to Lodi’s beginnings. … Fletcher Development is proposing to build 12 high-density housing units at 2115 W. Kettleman Lane, which is currently a vacant lot west of Mills Avenue. The project will be called Sunwest Commons. … Down the road, crews were seen cleaning out junk and debris from inside the old Church of the Nazarene building at 2223 W. Kettleman Lane, currently owned by Sutter Health. Apparently, the place had become a homeless hangout for a while. No word (yet) on what plans Sutter Health has for the property. … Holy jack-o’-lanterns! Did you know that 70% of the pumpkins grown in California come from San Joaquin County? Yup, that’s what the folks at the University of California Cooperative Extension tell us. And while you’re helping yourself to that second slice of pumpkin pie, don’t you miss the huge pumpkin patch that once filled an acre or two at Phillips Farms over on Highway 12? Hecka yeah! … And Janice Roth tipped us off that The First Church of Christ Scientist on the corner of Elm and Lee is now the Lodi Christian Life church.

LOOKING BACK: Seems like the older we get, the more we long to revisit our past. Some folks have taken to social media to express their yearnings for long ago traditions. Valerie Robbins would like the Lodi Grape Festival to bring back the queen and her court. Howard’s Deli in the Lakewood Mall is something David Brewer would like to experience again. David Nock would like to see the Lodi Lake boat races return on the Fourth of July, and he fondly remembers cruising School Street and wishes he could do that again. Rob Shepard yearns to see Lodi be home to another professional baseball team like the Lodi Crushers or Dodgers. Tammy Meidinger misses T&E Market, Sell-Rite, Peirano’s [Deli], the New Shanghai, Helwig’s and Camelot Restaurants. But I guess there’s got to be a realist in every crowd. Stan Flickinger says with a hint of sorrow, “Isn’t it sad that not (one) of anything mentioned here will ever happen again.”

BY THE NUMBERS: Income inequality seems to be all the political buzz these days. So how does Lodi compare? It’s about in the middle, according to a new report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the most unequal, Stockton comes in at 5.7 and Sacramento, 5.8. Lodi is somewhere between the two. Large metro areas like San Francisco scored a 1, as you’d expect. Lodi’s incomes may not be “equal,” they are evidently less un-equal.

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Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears most Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at aboutlodi@gmail.com.

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