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As Dallas Debates Fair Park's Future, City Council Has Lots Of Questions

Sheri Hall

Dallas City Council members have lots of questions about the future of Fair Park. That was apparent Monday as the council heard more about the  controversial plan to hand over Fair Park to a private nonprofit foundation.

This comes after the Dallas Park and Recreation Board voted earlier this month to allow the Fair Park Texas Foundation to manage the 277-acre park.

The council did not vote on the agreement Monday. Mayor Mike Rawlings says he wants to put a few council members on a team to work with the Fair Park Texas Foundation to fine-tune the agreement.

The mayor says he wants work wrapped up by Sept 21, when the council is scheduled to adopt the city budget.  

Council member Mark Clayton is concerned there’s not enough money in the foundation’s budget for park space that’s open year-round.

“The No. 1 goal of the park department and the park board is to develop a signature park that the community can use,” Clayton said. “But everything I’ve read - and I’m not being critical, I just want to know the answer to the question - there’s still not anything you’re going to allocate towards a signature park. How can you say it’s the No. 1 priority of the foundation if there’s not any money going towards it?”

The foundation says money for the signature park will come from private donations.

Council members are also concerned about the cost of revamping Fair Park. Renovations and repairs to buildings and park structures could cost about $200 million. The proposal asks for the city to kick in $75 million from a bond package next year.

Some council members say Fair Park has contributed to neglect in surrounding neighborhoods in South Dallas. Tiffinni Young, who represents the area, says the foundation should invest beyond Fair Park’s gates.

“Will this foundation be committed to partnering with organizations to be partners in the community to help and engage?” Young said. “I look forward to working with all my colleagues to make sure that we have a contract that we can all be proud and that the community can be proud of as well.”

Photo: Sheri/Flickr