Story by Kacie Frederick. Photos by Jan Osborn.
J.D. Trueblood, President, and CEO of Turtle Creek Association (TCA), reports the most extensive grant to restore the Turtle Creek Corridor. Thanks to Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the organization awarded TCA $119,300 to fully fund updating of the Turtle Creek Corridor Master Plan. This grant is one of TCA’s most significant private investments. The Master Plan will allow TCA to be laser focused on revolutionizing the corridor through shoreline stabilization, water flow, and debris removal. Most excitingly, the Master Plan will include sites for unique art installations, offering neighborhood appeal and charm. Local artist, Lauren Lewchuk, known for her elaborate wildlife landscapes, was selected to curate the mural under Lemmon Avenue bridge. As the TCA is the primary resource for preserving the Turtle Creek Corridor, Trueblood demonstrates how Lyda Hill Philanthropies and other generous donors’ assistance ensures Turtle Creek remains a beloved destination for all Dallas residents.
We recently had the opportunity to visit with J.D. Trueblood about his commitment to leading the Turtle Creek Association.
AS THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE TURTLE CREEK ASSOCIATION (TCA), IT IS YOUR DUTY AND MISSION TO PRESERVE THE CORRIDOR’S NATURAL BEAUTY. CAN YOU QUICKLY DESCRIBE THE TCA AND ITS VISION TO IMPROVE THE CORRIDOR?
I have a lot of passion for Turtle Creek and believe it’s something we must preserve and protect for future generations. TCA is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing the Turtle Creek Corridor (a.k.a. Dallas’ Front Yard). So, the health of the creek is our #1 priority. When we have heavy rain, the creek floods, causing property damage and even loss of life. Two individuals drowned during severe flooding events in recent years. It’s been over 20 years since the creek was last dredged. Dredging would improve the flow and overall health of the creek. Lastly, TCA is working with engineers to develop a permanent solution to the regular trash dumped into the creek.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM TO SPARK SUCH AN INTEREST IN PROTECTING NATURAL LANDSCAPES? DID YOUR UPBRINGING INSPIRE YOU TO GET INVOLVED IN THE TCA?
I grew up on a farm in Indiana. We raised livestock and grew corn, wheat, and soybeans. I love nature, hard work, and getting my hands dirty. In 2019, I had retired from State Farm Insurance, and one of TCA’s board members is a friend of mine. She and I were having dinner one night, and she asked if I’d consider taking over the helm of TCA to inject some new life into the organization. I jumped at the opportunity. I immediately recognized it would allow me to give back to the community of Dallas and help the environment at the same time. I call it my post-retirement win-win job!
IT’S GREAT TO HEAR WHY YOU ARE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR TCA POSITION. WHAT MAKES YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT THE TURTLE CREEK CORRIDOR, AND WHY IS IT SUCH AN ASSET TO OUR COMMUNITY?
This corridor, simply put, is a central landmark within this community. It’s a lush, urban oasis that offers outdoor enthusiasts limitless activities, from locals walking their dogs to weekend visitors marveling at its beauty. Proudly labeled Dallas’ official Front Yard, the preservation of Turtle Creek and the Corridor assures an elevated quality of life for urban dwellers across the space. And as the neighborhood continues to grow, the creek and parklands take on an even more critical role.
THE LYDA HILL PHILANTHROPIES’ INVESTMENT IN THE TCA IS THE LARGEST FUNDING THE ORGANIZATION HAS EVER RECEIVED. WITH THE HELP OF THESE TRANSFORMATIVE GRANTS, WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES IS THE NONPROFIT TACKLING?
Thanks in large part to this generous grant, the TCA will be able to invest in a master plan update. It will focus on three areas of opportunity, including restoration of the creek, reserving urban decay, and art installation. We plan to include bank stabilization, creek dredging, and solving recurring trash and pollution quandaries. The grant will allow us to eliminate graffiti while also restoring five historic bridges, simultaneously improving safety. Additionally, TCA pledges to create a sense of unity and shared pride through dynamic and colorful art as the corridor proudly becomes a cultural art destination in Dallas.
THROUGH RESTORING THE CREEK TO ITS NATURAL CHARM BY ELIMINATING POLLUTION AND URBAN DECAY, HOW ELSE IS THE ORGANIZATION WORKING TO BEAUTIFY THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND BUSINESS DISTRICT FURTHER?
The beautification of the greenbelts and parklands that border Turtle Creek is paramount to this entire strategy. More than $250,000 is invested annually to enhance and care for the parklands. Meanwhile, thanks to this partnership, TCA is able to maintain twenty-five heavily landscaped medians that provide seasonal flowers, hanging baskets, and containers throughout the corridor. Just last fall, we were fortunate enough to raise additional funds that allowed for the reestablishment of fourteen large azalea beds. And, we recently hired a vendor to manually clean the creek of trash via a boat!
WITH THE HELP OF LYDA HILL PHILANTHROPIES’ LARGE GRANT, IT IS AMAZING TO HEAR ALL THAT TCA CAN DO FOR THE CORRIDOR. WHAT ARE THE CURRENT NUMBERS THAT IT TAKES TO KEEP AND MAINTAIN TURTLE CREEK?
I’m so glad you asked — nothing quite like numbers solidifies the impact a project and landmark like TCA can have on a community while offering a greater understanding of what precisely is required to keep this local treasure operating at peak beauty. Some of the key metrics include annual maintenance (mowing, trimming, etc.), accumulating $57,000; manual cleaning of the creek, roughly $48,960; seasonal color, about $41,000; and overall improvements (landscaping, irrigation repairs/replacement), cumulating $100,000.
IT IS EXCITING TO HEAR THAT TCA ASSURED COLORFUL ART INSTALLATIONS FOR THE CORRIDOR. HOW DID YOU SELECT THE MURALIST FOR THE JOB?
Thinking locally is at the center of all we do. To that end, TCA hired an art consultant — Remains Inc. — to aid in our extensive search. This group vetted twelve gifted artists before presenting four finalists to the TCA Board of Directors. Enter Lauren Lewchuck, a local star out of Arlington who now calls Dallas her home base. Once we had her hand-picked, the design went through a rigorous final approval process, including The Office of Arts and Culture, The Department of Public Works, and Parks and Recreation. This process took nine months, but boy, was it worth it! You’ll know what we mean when you see Lewchuk’s work first-hand.
WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE FINAL RESULTS OF THE BEAUTIFUL TURTLE CREEK CORRIDOR! NOW, TELL US ABOUT THIS YEAR’S TOUR OF HOMES.
This is a passion project, to say the least! We’re still months away, but TCA has been working long and hard behind the scenes to create another incredible home tour. This year’s theme is “Living Large,” and the event will be held Saturday, October 8th, 2022. We are thrilled to share that Pittman and Stovall Real Estate will join Bentley Dallas and Urban – Allie Beth Allman as major co-sponsors for this year’s event. We’re so grateful for their partnership.
Additionally, we’ll have four beautiful homes representing the area and a benefit reception at the Perot Companies Turtle Creek Boulevard Campus. And our host will be none other than Candy Evans of Candy’s Dirt!
The Turtle Creek Association (TCA) is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving, enhancing, and protecting the Turtle Creek Corridor by keeping the landscape’s natural beauty against modern pollution. For over thirty-five years, TCA’s partnership with the City of Dallas has demonstrated successful cooperation to enhance the experiences of those who drive, walk, or jog along Turtle Creek. TCA is a 501(c)(3), making your donation tax-deductible. You can learn more or donate online at turtlecreekassociation.org, or you can call the TCA at 214-526-2800.