Fair Park Future

Pricey plan for Fair Park's future sparks controversy

Pricey plan for Fair Park's future sparks controversy

Fair Park Parry Avenue Gate
The future of Fair Park will be a hot topic this week. Photo by Conner Howell

The future of Fair Park is on the table this week, with an important vote coming up and a panel discussion being held ahead of time to get up to speed.

On August 4, the Dallas Park and Recreation Board will dedicate its entire meeting to Fair Park, with a discussion of a proposed Fair Park Texas Foundation management agreement, in which Fair Park would be taken over by a private foundation.

The meeting begins at 8:30 am at Dallas City Hall 6ES.

In a release, Park and Recreation Board president Max W. Wells stated that staff is hopeful to have the contract discussions completed so the Board's decision can be included in the upcoming City Council budget consideration.

"We will convene next Thursday and hopefully stay in session until the Board is able to take action," Wells said. "The Board will follow through with the discussion and deliberation process because it is tremendously important for the City of Dallas."

All other department business and briefings will be delayed until the next scheduled Park Board meeting on August 18.

There has been an ongoing effort to privatize Fair Park, but the process has been less than transparent, diligently tracked via a Twitter account called FairParkRising.

At the last Park Board meeting on July 21, members were given a management agreement, bylaws, and board of directors only days before the meeting. Five board members — Becky Rader, Marlon Rollins, Paul Sims, Barbara Barbee, and Jesse Moreno — walked out after Wells forbid members to discuss the bylaws or the entirety of the management agreement.

Those who protest the privatization plan see it as Wells trying to usher through something that was orchestrated behind closed doors, with taxpayers handing over $500 million to a foundation that has no plan for a park in Fair Park.

On August 1, there'll be a Fair Park panel from 6-9 pm at the Hall of State with Marcos G. Ronquillo, author Michael Phillips (White Metropolis); Patrick Washington of Dallas Weekly; and Tammy Johnston, CEO of Greater Communities of Fair Park and a member of the board of Fair Park Texas Foundation, moderated by Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze.