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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Farmers Branch is suffering an identity crisis.

    By STEPHANIE SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News

    Farmers Branch is suffering an identity crisis.

    So say city leaders who are on a mission to come up with a brand, an identity or an event – something that people will come to associate with the name Farmers Branch.

    They seem to be leaning toward creating an All-American city, with giant flags, a patriotic park and some kind of spectacular patriotic festival.

    "I think we're just kind of struggling to find something new and different that would make us stand out and hopefully entice some people to come to our city and live and work," City Council member Ben Robinson said.

    Other ideas that have been tossed out include developing rose gardens or encouraging residents to plant a specific tree in an effort to become known for a particular type of flora, or conducting a major event such as a bluegrass festival, a folklore festival or a special race.

    It's all tied to the city's revitalization effort. And that effort seems to be focused largely on getting people more interested in living in Farmers Branch, and in the process getting developers to come in to buy out and tear down older, smaller homes and build bigger ones in their stead.

    But one resident says city officials are wasting their time trying to latch onto things that other cities are already doing.

    "They seem to be looking at communities like Highland Park and University Park and trying to remake Farmers Branch into something it's not," said Kathleen Matsumura, who has spoken out against some of the city's revitalization efforts. "It seems like they've got an inferiority complex."

    With its extensively landscaped medians, historical park, numerous athletic fields and 28 other parks, Farmers Branch sometimes bills itself as the "City in a Park."

    Ms. Matsumura said it's a slogan that's used occasionally, but should be capitalized on.

    But Mr. Robinson said it's not catchy enough.

    And this city of 28,000 already is known for one thing that has put it in the national spotlight over the last year – the movement to drive illegal immigrants out of the city.

    "It seems like they're linked ... this and immigration," Ms. Matsumura said.

    "The revitalization plan seemed to have started first and focused on redoing some of the areas of town, and it just so happens a lot of the areas they are targeting are areas where the low-income people live, and a lot of those are of Hispanic background."

    City leaders maintain that there was nothing racist about efforts targeting illegal immigrants.

    Council member Tim O'Hare last August first made public desires to crack down on illegal immigrants. After months of public debate on the matter, residents overwhelmingly voted in May to adopt an ordinance that would ban apartment rentals to most illegal immigrants. A federal court judge has placed a temporary injunction against the city, preventing it from implementing the ordinance until a lawsuit challenging it as unconstitutional goes to trial or is otherwise settled.

    But council members said they welcome the image of being unfriendly to illegal immigrants and will continue to pursue measures targeting illegal immigrants. That's one of the quality-of-life and beautification goals the council decided on at a recent retreat.

    "I don't think [that image] is something to overcome," said council member Tim Scott, who was elected in May largely because of his support for the apartment ordinance.

    Voters supported the ordinance nearly 2-to-1.

    "I am completely comfortable with being known as a town where it is hard for an illegal immigrant to live," Mr. Scott said, adding that he's heard from other residents who have sold property in the city that buyers are attracted by the city's stance on illegal immigration.

    "The thing is, that is just one facet of what I think makes FB a wonderful place, and what we're trying to do is not move away from that and not run from that, but complement that with all these other programs and activities we're doing that hopefully will attract more families to Farmers Branch," Mr. Scott said.

    Most of the other goals have to do with parks and beautification.

    But council members seem to have seized on patriotism as a focus for a special event or place to put the city in the spotlight.

    Mr. O'Hare wants to build a patriotic park of some kind next to the Dr Pepper StarCenter, off Interstate 35E, between Valley View Lane and Interstate 635.

    He had suggested that the city try to fly the world's biggest American flag there.

    But city officials found out that the record goes to a flag that is more than 500 feet long, with each star more than 17 feet high, and takes 500 people to unfurl. It once hung from the Hoover Dam.

    That flag was too big, so they looked into the largest American flag that's ever flown from a pole. The record-setter is in Georgia, and is 65 feet by 114 feet and weighs 180 pounds. Mr. O'Hare said one like it would cost around $500,000.

    "Obviously, we're not going to do that one," Mr. O'Hare said.

    But a patriotic park could include one or more large flags, he said.

    Mr. O'Hare took exception to a question about why the council seems to be focusing on the patriotic theme.

    "Is this kind of a secret thing to help drive illegal aliens away? That was never brought up," he said. "I say, 'Hey, I think illegal aliens are bad,' and then any time you open your mouth ever again, people assume or try to tie in what you are doing to illegal aliens.

    "It's not like I became patriotic after realizing there are some problems with illegal aliens here. I've personally been a very pro-American, patriotic kind of guy."

    While the strongly anti-illegal-immigrant council says it's to the city's advantage to be recognized for that stance, they want to be known for more, like Arlington's moniker of "Fun City," touting its entertainment venues of Six Flags Over Texas and the Texas Rangers. Fort Worth is the city of "Cowboys and Culture." Denton's slogan is "North of Ordinary."

    "It's time for us to get aggressive about being one of the premier destination spots in the metroplex," Mr. Scott said.

    Some council members have suggested they build upon the "City in a Park" image.

    Mr. Scott said "City in a Park" could become the city's brand, if the council makes it the top idea to spend money on to develop and promote.

    Ms. Matsumura hopes the city focuses on the parks.

    "We have some wonderful things in Farmers Branch that you can build on that you already have," she said. "We don't have to create this veneer of red, white and blue patriotism." ... 66332.html

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    What is going on?

    Why don't they concentrate on making it a clean, safe city. A city where people would want to lived and raise their children.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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