Garrison association helps to continue to thrive, prosper

GARRISON – Garrison continues to thrive and prosper as a small community, thanks in part to Garrison Area Improvement Association (GAIA). The mission of GAIA is to create an environment that will aid the retention and expansion of existing businesses within the community and encourage development and success of all areas of business. GAIA is a nonprofit economic development maintaining an excellent quality of life.

In 2023, GAIA helped bring seven businesses to Garrison. Garrison was left with a need when the local dog groomer in town closed its doors. GAIA helped get Nishu Bay Kennels and Grooming into the same location as the previous dog groomer. Nishu Bay is originally from the White Shield area and now has two locations to meet the needs of both communities.

Two more businesses that came to the area were Java’s Lair and Rollin’ Rebel Too. Both have businesses open in Washburn as well. These two businesses combined in one building, with one side for the coffee shop and the other side for the boutique clothing store.

The closing of a long-running bar in the area left a big opening and has since been replaced with Bar 701.

Another opening that was left in Garrison was the closing of the autobody detail shop, which brought the opportunity to help AK Autobody and Detailing, LLC, go into the previous autobody shop.

GAIA also was able to help Little Sprouts Daycare open its doors, as there is always a need for childcare in all communities.

The 2024 year is starting out with a new barber shop, expected to open its doors on Main Street in the upcoming months.

GAIA acknowledges the need for a community daycare and has purchased the vacant Church of God building. Plans are underway to renovate the space and find individuals who would operate a community daycare in the basement. Possible uses for the main floor are being explored, based on the space available.

Another ongoing issue that is recognized is housing for essential employees. In 2023, GAIA purchased a mobile home for rental purposes in the Northview Trailer Court as an additional housing alternative. A new grant program is available as well: the GAIA Essential Service Housing Grant Program. The purpose of this grant is to assist essential service workers relocating to the Garrison area.

Mandatory removal of dead trees has been addressed by the City of Garrison for multiple years now, not only on community property, but also on privately owned property. Deceased trees are marked, and letters are sent to residents, informing them which tree has been marked, that the tree needs to be removed and a timeline specified when the tree must come down. GAIA created a temporary grant to assist homeowners with the cost of tree removal. This grant has been successful and vital in helping with the high cost of removing trees.

A project that was started a few years ago and continues to be a success is the Community Gardens. This project allows area residents to rent a plot to garden for the growing season. Water, tilling and a seasonal dumpster are provided for those who rent a plot. New in 2023, three raised gardens were constructed for an additional six gardening areas. These are beneficial for those who are unable to bend down to garden, but still enjoy gardening each season.

The Garrison Parks and Recreation Board started a pool project a couple of years ago that has been ongoing with the help of GAIA. It has been a large undertaking and would not have been possible without the help of funding from GAIA. Things have finally gotten started with the closing bids just a few weeks ago.

The first part of the project is to fill in the baby pool and make it into a splash pad, usable by all in the area. The other parts will include updating parts of the mechanical room for smoother operation every year and updating the pool house, making it ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. The splash pad portion is set to begin this spring, and the pool house updates will start at the end of the pool season.

GAIA purchased an open-air trolley two years ago and offers free trolley rides at events and during the summer from Fort Stevenson to Garrison.

All these projects are just some of the reasons Garrison continues to prosper and be a great place to live and work. The community comes together, whether one has lived there their whole life, moved here recently, is just visiting or plans to make the move to the community.


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