Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Community Profile

Garland, Texas comprises over 57 square miles and is the second largest city in Dallas County. It is the home of over 200,000 people from all walks of life, cultural backgrounds, religious preferences, income and education. This website is designed as an introduction to some of those people, the places they live and work and the city they call home. Links to federal, state, and local government agencies; social services agencies and social organizations; retail establishments, businesses, and housing information will be located within articles and in the margin of the website page. This is not an exhaustive website to the community, only an introduction. Please feel free to email me using the email link from 'My profile' page regarding information, comments, questions or concerns. This website is made available to the public, but is not made in connection with any of the groups, persons, or organizations listed. Enjoy!

History of the Community

It is not possible for me to write the history of this community and its development into a city as well as it has already been done. Please refer to the links at the right or the links in this post for the history of Garland, Texas. One link will take you to the City of Garland website and the other will take you to The Handbook of Texas Online maintain through a joint project of The Texas State Historical Association and The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin otherwise known as TU. They are short articles and worth the read.

Enjoy some photos of the Historical Park located off the downtown square as well as some pictures of the square that helps make this community unique. The square is on the verge of a revitalization, so look out for improvements in the near future.


Historical downtown Garland square

Heritage Park

Leadership

The city was incorporated in 1891 after 70 of the 71 qualified citizens voted to incorporate. The Home Rule Charter was adopted by the voters in 1951 setting up the council-manager form of government in place today.
City Council is made up of eight district representative and a Mayor. The individual councilpersons websites are useful places to gather information about the city and what is going on in their neighborhood. There are a number of ways citizens can become part of the process of government. There are a number of boards and committees to serve on as well as the opportunity to volunteer in any number of the community programs sponsored by the city. The Chamber of Commerce offers a program called ‘Leadership Garland’ for training in corporate leadership, civic leadership, and personal development.

Garland Independent School District

The boundaries of the Garland Independent School District encompass most of the city, as well as the entire city of Sachse, most of the city of Rowlett and areas of the city of Wylie. The enrollment population as of Febuary 2005 was 55,583 including early childhood, pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school students. Of those students, less than 1% was Native American, 7.2% was Asian and Pacific Islander, 18.6% was African-American, 37.1% was Hispanic, and 36.6% was Anglo and other. The district offers bi-lingual enrollment services at the old administrative building located on Stadium Drive.


The district offers a liaison to the African-American community as well. The school district is the second largest school district in Dallas County. It operates on a Choice of School system where by parents can designate the campus they want their child to attend. Enrollment is offered on a first come, first serve basis and transportation is specific schools from specific areas of town, therefore if the parent chooses a school outside the transportation boundaries for their neighborhood, they must provide the transportation to their school of choice.

Sports, especially football and baseball are an important part of this Texas community.

Busing Information


One of the unique features of this school district is the staggered start times between the levels of schools. High school students begin class around 7:30 am and leave school around 2:30 pm. Elementary students begin class around 8 am and leave school around 3 pm. Middle School students begin school around 8:30 am and leave school around 3:30 pm. The advantage to this system is multi-fold. High school students get an early jump on afternoon employment opportunities and junior high students are occupied until later in the day. The greatest benefit of all is the ability of the school district to maintain a minimum number of buses, as they run three separate routes; high school, elementary school and middle school, easing parent’s concerns about ridership on the buses. High school students will not be on the bus at the same time a kindergartener is on the bus.

The Transportation Department provides all busing information and coordination between school and home. All the buses in the corral run on ecological natural gas and have for at least 20 years. The students are not subjected to typical stinky bus fumes.

Private Schools


Along with public schools, Garland hosts two well known private schools; Good Shepard Catholic School for elementary aged students, and Garland Christian Academy for students elementary through high school. There are many private daycares in the area as well as a Head Start program for early childhood. Amberton University is located at the southern edge of the city adjacent to LBJ Freeway. It is a based on a Christian philosophy and students must by 21 years of age to enroll and fluent in English. It offers primarily upper level classes as well as a graduate program in a number of areas. There is also a network of homeschoolers in the Garland area.

Government Agencies

Texas Department of Corrections has a Garland office at S. Shiloh Road and Miller Road. Child Protective Services had a Garland office for many years, but closed after the City of Garland stopped offering the location rent free. There are 11 fire stations located throughout the city.

The police department offers community outreach programs through neighborhood watch groups, Citizens on Patrol, Citizens Police Academy, as well as an apartment managers group. After occupying cramped quarters for a number of years in a building located near the downtown square, the police department is now located in a state of the art expanded facility western entrance of the downtown historical area on Forest Lane (State Highway 66). The police department has been proactive in crime prevention and at one time operated a gang unit. It’s nice to say that it outlived its usefulness. The city’s court system is still located in the area of the downtown square.

Health Facilities



Baylor Garland is a leading employer in the city and offers a wide range of health care to area residents. It is located at the corner of Walnut Road and Shiloh Road. Cattycorner to Baylor Garland is Garland Community Hospital. This hospital has seen many transitions and is currently referred to as Vista Hospital of Dallas.

The city offers well child exams and immunizations for children and adults at the public health clinic . The city’s Human Resources Department is in it’s 11th year of providing a summer nutrition program for children ages 18 and younger. The Department of Health and Human Services has an office in the Little Saigon area. Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps and WIC are among the services provided. HHS is located in the International Bank Building at Walnut Road and Jupiter Road.
Senior and geriatric services and facilities in the Garland area have rapidly developed in the last 10 years. There are a number of new or recently constructed assisted living facilities and Senior only independent living facilities located throughout the city as well as a state of the art Senior Activity Center located just of the downtown square.

Parks & Recreation


The parks system is expansive and well-developed. There are five recreation centers located throughout the city and offer the local neighborhoods a place to play, learn, create, relax, hike, bike and swim. Garland Parks Department has a number of open space recreational areas in flood zones throughout the city. Audubon Park located off Oates Drive is at the southern end of the Duck Creek Preserve. The paths are wide and paved offering parents with strollers and preschoolers on training wheels plenty of space to enjoy the setting. This is ample room for the runners as well as roller bladers to pass as well. Some of the park facilities are highlighted in the unique features area of this website. There are a number of private recreational facilities as well; Lifetime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and Hawaiian Falls Water Park.

The Nicholson Memorial Library system has five area branches including the central branch located near the downtown square.










Parts of the city are located along the shoreline of Lake Ray Hubbard. Fishing, boating, skiing are among the water sports enjoyed by area residents. A little known fact is that the lake is owned by the city of Dallas and only recently agreements have been reached between the two cities regarding land use of the shore line by adjacent residents. All bridges crossing the lake, regardless of the city or cities on either side of the bridge, are owned and maintained by city of Dallas.

Community Theatre is alive and well-established here. Performances take place at the Patty Granville Performing Arts Center, The Plaza Theatre and The Garland Civic Theatre located around the downtown square. There are a number of performing troupes that make Garland’s theatre district come alive with arts and entertainment.

Also making a home on the square every Saturday night from summer to fall is Jim Paul Miller’s Garland Square Pickers . They bring the lost sounds of bluegrass to the public free of charge every weekend. It’s definitely one of the greatest cultural and historical experiences around.

Civic & Community Organizations


Garland hosts a number of civic, community and non-profit social service agencies. There are a number of Boy Scout Troops and an Explorer Post, an Elks Lodge, a Hella Shrine Temple, Optimist Club of Garland, YMCA, YWCA and The Salvation Army. Social services and crisis intervention are provided by; Garland Family Outreach, The Galaxy Center, New Beginning Center and The Good Samaritan. Area churches are instrumental in providing volunteers as well as much needed funding to maintain these programs.

Economies

The Garland Chamber of Commerce is located on state highway 78 on the south side of the downtown historical district. The Chamber is instrumental in developing ties between the city and it’s commercial tax base, both current and perspective. Garland is home to 4,500 business with a large manufacturing base as well as retail and restaurants outlets. The largest single employer is Raytheon located at Plano Road and Miller Road. It is a secure facility specializing in government military contracts. It employees 2750 people and is ranked 38th of the top 50 employers in the North Texas area. They are followed by Wal-Mart with three locations employing over 1500; Baylor Garland Medical Center employing over 1200; Kingsley Tools employing 500; Interceramic employing 474, and Kraft Foods employing 450.

The city recently voted itself wet for beer and wine only, and no longer requires memberships at restaurants for alcohol sells. There are hundreds of restaurants within the city of which, dozens offer ethnic varieties reflective of the citizen diversity. The newest retail development is Firewheel Town Center. This was a project 10 years in the making. There was a lot of talk about this exciting addition to the community.

Utilities


Another unique property of this city is Garland Power & Light. It is the city’s own utility company providing power to large areas of the city. Duck Creek Water Treatment Plant is located off Centerville Road and serves the city of Garland as well as the city of Rowlett. All water for residences and businesses is provided through the North Texas Municipal Water District located in Wylie, Texas. Lake Lavon is the water source for this utility. The city is in the clutches of a serious drought at this time and is at a Stage 3 water usage alert. Citizens and businesses are ticketed for watering on undesignated days. This is a problem throughout North Central Texas at this time. The last time the city experienced a serious drought was from 1950 to 1954. This spurred the development of the North Texas Municipal Water District. It was a cooperative effort of 11 surrounding communities. The C.M. Hinton landfill is located at the northeastern edge of Dallas county bordering Rowlett, Wylie and Sachse. The city annexed land miles from its border using a utility right of way during the growth years of the 1980’s.

Unique Character Features

Not all the unique character features of Garland are listed here, but these are some of my favorites. Don't forget to follow the links to the official websites for more photos of and information on the items listed below. Enjoy!

Neighborhoods

The city is devoted to neighborhood revitalization in several areas. There is a noticeable difference between the neighborhoods just northwest and southeast of the town center and the neighborhoods further to the north near Firewheel. The city conducted an extensive neighborhood survey to identify complaints, concerns and strengths within pocket communities throughout the city. The results are impressive.
There are a number of active neighborhood associations in a variety of demographics. There are several links listed here:

http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/garland/allneighs.html
http://www.countrybrook.net/links.html
http://www.oakridgena.com/index_body.htm

The average price of a home in Garland is $70,000 with average apartment rent at $536 per month. The average age of a resident is 32 and the average income is $55,282.

Population has steadily increased over the years:

1950 population ...10,571
1990 population ...180,650

2000
population ...215,165
households .....73,774
employed .......93,265

Population projections:
2010
population ....232,685
households .....80,306
employed ......106,985

2020
population ...234,650
households .....81,344
employed .......115,241

4th of July Celebration

Every year the city celebrates the 4th of July with activities and entertainment over several days and culminating in a gargantuan display of pyrotechnics that can be seen by neighboring cities and towns. The 4th of July Celebration offers the citizens a unique opportunity to feel united with and proud of their town. (PHOTO)

Day Labor Center

Several years ago the area around Miller Road from eastward to Shiloh Road evolved into a low rent area attracting many migrant workers and day laborers. It was common to see dozens of Hispanic men, young and old, lining the parking lots of area merchants, especially the corner food mart. The city responded to the situation by establishing one of the first Day Labor Centers in the metroplex opening on December 16, 2002. The Day Labor Center is located at Saturn Road and Miller Road, walking distance from the worker's former hangouts, with closer access to public transportation. It is a unique feature of this community. The center is open from early morning until after lunch. The building is not large and the workers gather outside along the round-a-bout where employers pull through and specify their labor needs. Workers are employed on a first come first serve basis, receiving a numbered slip of paper each morning. On my visit to the center, I spoke with five workers; two African-American and three Hispanic. The African-American men had been attending the center for about three months and had received ample work. They are paid in cash about $10 per hour. They had never been cheated on a job by an employer. The young Hispanic man speaking with me was very eager and translated for the other two older men. He was skilled in many areas, especially in painting, drywall and moving. He reported that he had never been cheated, however the older Hispanic man had gone out on three jobs in which the employer did not pay him at the end of the day. The workers are generally paid $80-$100 per day and the employer provides the transportation to and from the center. It is run in cooperation with the Texas Workforce Commission and the WorkSource for Dallas County. It’s a great idea.

Firewheel Golf Course

Firewheel Golf Course is a municipal park located on the north side of the city. It is the top ranked municipal golf course in the state. The course has expanded several times since it’s opening and offers unique views to the local fauna and flora of the Spring Creek natural area.

Rowlett Creek Preserve


In 1990, Centerville Road ran north from LBJ freeway until it dead ended at Castle Road about 6 miles away. The end of the road was a spooky dark place where Rowlett Creek ran in a deep ravine surrounded by acres of large trees. During expansion of Centerville Road to the north, the city bypassed the creek area and in coordination with Dallas County created the Rowlett Creek Preserve. Castle Road no longer crosses the creek. Today the preserve provides a hiking and bike trail for area residents and visitors from all over Texas. The preserve offers over 12 miles of off-road trails along the creek. It is maintained in cooperation with DORBA (Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association).It is the busiest bike trail in the Dallas-Fort Worth and on any given evening from spring to fall, dozens of bikers take advantage of this beautiful unique setting. It is common to find expert riders preparing for competition as well as families with children enjoying the ride.



Spring Creek Forest & Preserve




Northwest of the Rowlett Creek Preserve is a pristine bit of natural habitat tucked into a fold of land that runs just south of the George Bush Turnpike from state highway 78 west to Central Expressway. Few people know of this gem and it’s probably better that way. The first time I explored the preserve was years ago after hearing rumors from local high schoolers that there was a forest and a creek behind the new high school, Naaman Forest. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a small placard on a chain link fence lining a road near the high school that read, “City of Garland Parks Department” and it went on to instruct visitors to call the city before entering. There was no place to park, I simply pulled off the road and unloaded my kids for a hike into the unknown. It proved to be spectacular offering glimpses into one of the only virgin forests in the area. Today there is a volunteer organization committed to preserving it’s unique qualities and there is a parking area along Holford Road now.

Chuck Norris



One of Garland’s claim to fame is it’s 1 degree of separation from Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris visited Garland throughout his filming of Texas Walker Ranger, utilizing the city’s unique downtown square as a backdrop in many of the show’s episodes. You cannot visit the café’s around the square without finding several autographed photos of The Great One.

Little Saigon Area

The Vietnamese community is alive and strong in Garland. The Vietnamese-American Community center is located on Belt Line Road near Jupiter Road.



During the boat lift of southern Asia during the Viet Nam War, Texas experienced an increase of Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian. Many of those Vietnamese immigrants found a sustainable life in the Garland area at the intersection of Shiloh Road and Walnut Road . This area rapidly developed into what is known as Little Saigon. Only a few years ago, almost all the area merchants were of pan-Asian descent, mostly Vietnamese.

Today the area has experienced a merge of cultures as Hispanic merchants have opened restaurants and shopping bazaars in the area.

heart beat and heart ache of the city



There are two culinary icons of note in the city; Hubbard’s Cupboard and The Beef House. There is no way to successfully describe the cultural experience of either of these distinctive eateries. Hubbard’s Cupboard is the heartbeat of Garland. It’s where the Good ‘Ole Boys meet to conduct politics and business. There is suspicion that the waitstaff is the reason the Good ‘Ole Boys make it their main morning stop, but that’s just hearsay. And if Hubbard’s gets the city going in the morning, than The Beef House will put the city to bed at night, where patrolman on the night shift can be found having their lunch. It’s a greasy spoon where one could expect to walk in and find Tom Waits sitting at the counter ordering an open face sandwich, smoking a stale cigarette and reading last week’s newspaper.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Future

The city is in the planning stages of revitalizing the town square. Their vision is to restore its importance to the community. It's well on its way with the new Senior Center located close by, the major arts and entertainment happening there and the cafes and businesses located nearby. The DART rail is located within walking distance from the town square and that has brought a large number of citizens back to the center of town in their commute to and from the larger metropolitan area, Dallas. Any night that the Dallas Mavericks or Dallas Stars are planning at American Airlines Center, the Garland DART station will be flowing with fans making their way to and from the arena.




The North Texas Tollway Authority is continuing progression toward completing the eastern extension of the George Bush Turnpike which will connect North Garland to South Garland along the eastern edge of the city. Bass Pro Shops is already midway through construction on their second retail outlet in the North Texas area. It will be located at the southern end of the turnpike. That may also bring revitalization of business and neighborhoods to the city's southside.



Wrap up...

Garland, Texas is not without its share of problems for a city of over 200,000 residents. There is crime here and the police blotter keeps everyone aware of what is happening. There is a large part of the Hispanic residents that do no speak any English. The school system works in cooperation with Garland PD, Rowlett PD and Sachse PD in providing and maintaining a school resource officer at the larger campuses and at every high school. For the most part the people of this community are hard working citizens who are drawn here because it is an affordable place to live with access to many resources. Vietnamese are now second and third generation immigrants and are beginning to excert more influence in the areas of business, politics and education. The city works in conjunction with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit to provide not only the light rail system, but regular service delivery via buses throughout the city. The transportation tax is added to the sales tax of retail purchases.

Of course I hope you enjoyed this brief community profile on Garland, Texas. There are so many things to see and do here. If you get a chance to visit, be sure and enjoy the food and the hospitality of the people who make this unique community their home. This website was created as an assignment for the Communities, Organizations and Social Policy class at Texas A&M-Commerce Graduate School of Social Work.