Mansfield Magazine Celebrates 10 Years of Mansfield
Nov 17, 2016 02:54PM
● By Melanie Heisinger
When we started Mansfield Magazine 10 years ago little did we know the kind of growth this community would experience in a single decade. Population growth has exploded, retail development has broken ground all over, city services have expanded and yet, somehow, our community has managed to maintain that small-town feel.
It’s been a lot of fun to be here to witness the growth, talk to and write about many of the people who have been involved in the growth, and yeah, even experience some changes of our own as a publication.
With a decade under our belt, we decided to step back and reflect on where our publication has come from within the context of the growth and look at some of the changes that have taken place throughout this community.
TEN YEARS AGO
Mansfield Magazine was the dream of Lisa Drake. She had spent years in publications from newspapers to magazines and, as an area resident whose kids all went to Mansfield schools, had been searching for a “city publication” that covered and reflected life in the suburbs. With a dream and a small amount of startup cash she launched Mansfield Magazine in the fall of 2006.
“I wanted to create a magazine that reflected what it’s like living in Mansfield,” she says. “Something polished without being pretentious and that spoke to the unique style and spirit of Mansfield residents.”
One of her goals was to interview and write about people right here in the community who had great stories to tell. Whether they had a unique hobby, interest or accomplishment, or were community leaders, the pages of Mansfield Magazine were designed to tell their stories.
For example, in our very first issue I had the opportunity to visit with Mansfield’s then mayor, Mel Neuman. It was impressive to meet someone who had an authentic humility and yet was dedicated to leading the city into the future.
As this first 10 years has passed, we have remained committed to identifying and highlighting individuals who embody that spirit that is often felt here in Mansfield and the surrounding communities. And we plan to continue doing so.
Anyone who has lived in Mansfield for long knows that one of the issues facing residents over the past decade has been population growth and everything that goes along with it. City officials have worked hard to keep the infrastructure up-to-date as the population, building and traffic have surged.
There have been numerous road projects under development in the last 10 years including West Broad Street (Main to city limits), East Broad Street (Holland to Day Miar), FM 1187, Debbie Lane (Matlock to city limits), Heritage Parkway (287 to 360), Matlock Road (Broad to Heritage Parkway), FM 917, Walnut Creek Drive/287 bridge and Texas turns, East Broad Street/287 bridge and Texas turns, US 287 frontage roads (Walnut Creek to East Broad Street).
The city has also been busy furthering the reach of the parks system. The massive Walnut Creek Linear Park & Trails opened in 2007, Big League Dreams Mansfield sports park and Hawaiian Falls Mansfield opened in 2008, and Oliver Nature Park opened in 2014.
Then there were the city-sponsored special events such as Night on the Town, which began in 2006, Winter Walk beginning in 2007, the Rockin’ 4th of July in 2008 and Wurstfest in 2011.
There have even been a few new public buildings and renovations since 2006 - Chris W. Burkett Service Center, Bud Ervin Water Treatment Plant, Law Enforcement Center, Mansfield Animal Care & Control and Mansfield Park Operations.
Belinda Willis is the director of communications & marketing for the City of Mansfield and she was enormously helpful as we looked to gather and analyze information about the city over the past decade. “It’s been a great time to be a part of the Mansfield community,” she says. “Growth and development on all levels help ensure the city remains a top place to live and work.”
From a sheer numbers standpoint, consider the Mansfield city budget. The city’s budget grew from $99,634,327 in 2006 to $184,607,417 in 2016. Meanwhile the tax rate held steady at $.71.
The Mansfield Police Department has had two chiefs since 2006. Tracy Aaron currently holds the post. The other major change during the past decade was the combining of the marshals office and the police department. Perhaps not surprisingly, the department is now utilizing officer body cameras and has added tasers to its list of equipment. Back in 2006, the Mansfield Police Department had 64 officers on duty. That number has grown to 100 in 2016.
The department has experienced its share of recognition and awards over the past decade. Mansfield was designated with the Safest Cities Award in 2015 and 2016. In October of this year, the police department became the 132nd Recognized Agency in Texas by the Texas Police Chief’s Association Best Practices Program. Chief Aaron is proud of that accomplishment.
“This program required the review of all our policies, substantial training, brought outside inspectors who reviewed our policies and procedures, as well as interviewed our members and actually observed our personnel in performance of their duties in all the areas including dispatch, patrol, property room, jail and criminal investigation,” he says.
Aaron believes they are a diverse, well-trained department that recognizes that “ongoing training, professionalism, community involvement, and great men and women in our department are what continues to make us successful. We truly understand to keep our city safe is a team event with our community and community leaders.”
Mansfield Fire Rescue
Back in 2006, the Mansfield Fire Rescue department was comprised of three stations and a staff of 71, says Fire Chief Barry Bondurant. “There were two fire engines, one ladder truck, three MICU’s (Mobile Intensive Care Units, Ambulance) and one shift commander,” he says. A fourth station was opened in 2009 and in 2015 a fourth MICU was placed in service while the staff grew to 83 budgeted personnel by 2016.
Bondurant points out that back in 2006, Mansfield’s nearest hospital was South Arlington but that same year Methodist Mansfield Hospital opened to treat minor emergencies. Today Methodist Mansfield offers a full range of care from cardiac services to its advanced primary stroke center.
The city’s population growth has increased demand for fire rescue services. The number of fire calls grew from 3,642 in 2006 to 5,387 in 2016. Likewise, EMS calls jumped from 2,707 in 2006 to 4,219 this year. Yet, as he points out, the department has maintained response times under 6 minutes per call.
But what Bondurant says he may be most proud of over the last decade is the department’s ISO (Insurance Services Organization) rating. It improved from a 4 to a 2 - 1 is the highest rating. “This had a direct impact on reducing residential insurance premiums,” he says. “I think it tells a lot about the community as a whole and encourages potential residents and businesses to relocate to the City of Mansfield.”
As the community of Mansfield has grown the school district has been tracking right along with it. Numerous new schools and other facilities have been constructed or remodeled in the last decade.
Two shining stars reflect the district’s dedication to providing quality state-of-the-art resources for students. The Ben Barber Career & Technology Academy, now called Ben Barber Innovation Academy, was built and has recently been renovated to include three new culinary kitchens, additional welding shops, a new pharmacy and a new video production lab. The Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors in 2012. The dual-purpose facility serves students, staff and the community, offering banquet and meeting space for large events and a stage and auditorium.
Today, there are more than 33,800 students and more than 4,100 faculty and staff throughout the district.
“Mansfield ISD continues to grow in the number of students that are enrolling, and we’re also excited about the diversity of our district. There is strength in our diversity, and we celebrate the people who make up our community and who play an equal part in making Mansfield ISD a great place to live, learn and teach,” says Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas.
It was a great year for healthcare in Mansfield back in 2006. In December that year, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center opened an 88-bed, $134-million facility.
Over the past decade the hospital has grown from 88 beds to 254 beds and expanded several departments and support services. There have been numerous expansions over the years and a new office building is scheduled for 2017.
“We now offer 3D mammography plus comprehensive digital imaging technologies and four new gastroenterology suites,” says Angel Biasatti, the hospital’s director of community and public relations. Last December they opened the Amon G. Carter Foundation Heart and Vascular Center and a new 208,000-square foot, 118-bed tower. “We’ve added four new operating rooms with a focus on minimally invasive robotic surgery, neurology and trauma, and we are continuing to grow and expand on the 23-acre health care complex,” says Biasatti.
Today, Methodist Mansfield offers some of the latest in medical technology and innovative treatments through a variety of specialties, including award-winning cardiology services and robot-assisted surgery serving patients in Tarrant, Johnson and Ellis counties.
Business development is an important part of any economy and Mansfield has been no different. A number of new stores, shops, restaurants and other businesses have hung out their shingles since 2006.
Some of the more significant developments have been Mansfield Pointe (Bed Bath & Beyond), Broad Street Commons (Kroger Marketplace), Mansfield Market Centre (Sprouts), and Shoppes di Lucca (Fuzzy’s Tacos), just to name a few. One local powerhouse, Mouser Electronics grew from 660 employees in 2006 to more than 1,460 employees this year.
Scott Welmaker is director of economic development for the Mansfield Economic Development Corporation. He constantly has his finger on the pulse of the Mansfield economy.
“Mansfield has experienced explosive growth since 2000. Fortunately, our elected officials and staff have been diligent in keeping the quality of that growth at a very high level” he says. “Sometimes people who have been around for a while are reluctant to embrace the growth, but any city that is not growing is dying.”
He says citizens are always providing him with feedback on what restaurants and shopping they would like to see. Mansfield has been fortunate to have gotten many new options in the past 10 years, and a lot more are coming.
Welmaker points out that Mansfield citizens had the great foresight to approve a 1/2 cent sales tax for Parks and for Economic Development. “Those have provided a funding mechanism that is largely responsible for our world-class parks and rec system as well as the ability to aggressively target new commercial development.”
2006 VS 2016 COMPARISONS
- Mayor: Mel Neuman
- Population: 49,197
- Average new home value: $239,000
- Average household income: $91,878
- Number of hotels: 2
- City employees: 455
- Mayor: David Cook
- Population: 67,628
- Average new home value: $352,704
- Average household income: $111,177
- Number of hotels: 6
- City employees: 533