As Fair Park Gets Its Big Award, Mayor Says City Needs to Find a Way to "Leverage" Historic Site

Categories: City Hall

CouncilCollectsFairParkAward.JPG
Photo by Anna Merlan
The council -- well, most of it, anyway -- collects Fair Park's prize for being one of the best public spaces in America.
You may recall that back in October we told you Fair Park had been named a Great Public Space by the American Planning Association. Well, during the council's lunch break today, just after he got emotional about the children, Mayor Mike Rawlings gathered with the city council, Parks Board chair Joan Walne and Ann Bagley of the City Plan Commission to collect that award and sing the park's praises.

"Fair Park is an asset to our region and our state ever year," Rawlings said, from the Texas-OU game to the corn dogs at the State Fair to the Hall of State. "And it still functions after more than 70 years. Think about that." A few moments later, council member Carolyn Davis called for a standing ovation for Fair Park, and everyone in the room happily obliged.

Rawlings pointed out too that it's been just 10 years since Fair Park was named as one of the 11 most endangered historical places in America. But, he said, there is "still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of tough decisions that we as a council are going to make and the community are going to make, to make sure the park becomes a vibrant place that people come to."

"For too long," the mayor said, Fair Park and its surrounding neighborhood "have been separated." The city, he said, needs to find a way to unite them. "In the upcoming bond initiative and the elections," he said, city government has to ask itself, "how do we leverage Fair Park?"

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lawofattractioncommunity
lawofattractioncommunity

Dallas is so busy trying to keep People separate, they miss out on great opportunities. When to many Blacks started going to deep Elm, its was closed, to many Hispanics on lower Green-vile it was rezoned ,Fair Park not being used because of  location in South Dallas how dam silly is that.

John
John

The SCMA (a 501(c)3 has just completed it's 29th (of 30) North Texas Irish Festival in Fair Park. We had about 70,000 people visit us during our 2 1/2 day event. Top international and local Celtic musicians, great food, arts vendors, food and beverages.

Problem is not the facility, it's the difficulties that the City creates. Permits for every electrical connection, permits for each stage, permits for each food vendor, permits for each tent, permits for bleaches, permits for vehicles. We even had to get a licensed plumber to connect a hose pipe to a facet. The cost of all those permits, plus the fees of licensed plumbers, electricians and mechanical engineers was over $10,000. Then there is the concession fee, parking fee, security fee. City makes far more money from our festival than we, the non-profit do.

Staff at Fair Park itself are a joy to work with. Wish I could say the same about those at City Hall who don't even support the events that do try and exist at their Jewel of a Fairground. You "Leverage" it by supporting the events, not trying to run them off.

Mike
Mike

The problem with Fair Park is the State Fair and it is too big. How can you move businesses into the grounds when 2 months out of the year another group takes over, controls access, with huge crowds? It is too big in that every solution has to be super sized. You cannot do it in bite sized chunks.

What about downsizing the area, returning significant chunks to the neighborhood? You can lose the parking areas. We have transit. Cede parcels to people that want to build housing and stores.

bd
bd

CASINO

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I've said this for years about fair park: Its an amazing venue that never gets any real attention. One reason for that is due to the neighborhoods on the south and west of the park itsself. I've always said the fair park area would be ripe of what I call "hipster development", which is to say having younger, more finally-settled folks move in and buy out existing homes that they can develop, not to mention selling vacant lots that are currently used as hang-outs over off of MLK and turning them into pads for small businesses. Fair Park is our East Austin, we should be welcoming in developers and business who want to make it a better place to live and work..

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

It would take very little to open Fair Park year around,I have ask Council for several years to let the Park stay open and have activities for families.Vendors could operate and programs started.Big festivals could happen and all kinds of fun stuff.Dallas is so busy trying to keep People separate, they miss out on great opportunities. When to many Blacks started going to deep Elm, its was closed, to many Hispanics on lower Green-vile it was rezoned ,Fair Park not being used because of  location in South Dallas how dam silly is that. I visited Portland and every place I went it was a mixed group of people,homeless were mostly white drug addicts,but we all got along and went about our business and had fun. 

Bob
Bob

Except for the State Fair period, the park IS open year round. It IS open every day.  Anyone who wants to organize activities and programs and festivals IS welcome to do so.  Fun stuff CAN happen every day, right now.

Fair Park is not underutilized because the City is keeping people away.  Fair Park is underutilized because people are keeping themselves away.  The bad attitude problem is not on the part of the City, it is on the part of people.  That bad attitude is what needs to change.  Could the City or the operating entities at Fair Park do more to change that attitude.  Sure.  Could outside entities do more to change that attitude.  Sure.  Just do it.

Larry
Larry

Good God. The same old discussion, year after year, decade after decade. Don't people in this city get sick and tired of all the decade-after-decade circular discussions we have in this town? Talk. Talk. Talk. But don't do anything. Fair Park, Farmer's Market, the Trinity... Why does downtown suck? Let's hire a consultant to study it, tell us why, develop a master plan, which we'll put on the shelf, talk about for 15 years, but never fund. I swear to god, this city is getting harder and harder to stomach. Can we all just pick up and move to Austin?

Ellum08
Ellum08

I hate to tell you this, Larry, but there are things about Austin that suck. Traffic, lack of water planning, East Austin is a mirror image of portions of South Dallas. Shocker, I know, since Austin is held up as this holy grail of what is perfect. Guess what, its all been done before and better.

Not every city is perfect, but I would love for you (along with your fellow malcontents) to move down there and find that out yourself.

Larry
Larry

You're running wild with a little snarky comment I added on the end. The point is not Austin. The point is, when the hell is Dallas going to take action and DO something instead of talking and studying the doing NOTHING? What does it take, like 50 years of spinning in circles for people in this town to say enough is enough?

RC
RC

 Not centrally located in Dallas like Central Park in NYC, like Millennium Park in Chicago, like the Baltimore Harbor, San Francisco, Boston Harbor, Seattle Fish Market, etc. then there is the parking fee, lack of museums, and then the neighborhood around it, aka 'stigma'. Yes, it's got everything going for it. Not. The City dropped the ball about 60 years ago when it came to paying attention to this jewel. The best we can hope for is The State Fair.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Mayor Mike sure takes a nice picture. Sometimes it seems that's all he ever does.

roadsidecouch
roadsidecouch

"u Fair Park had been named a Great Public Space by the American Planning Association. "

Look, we all know this was because they added Nekid NAZI chicks a few years ago.  What they need to do is add Nekid NAZI chick statues to street corners around the city.  Only then will Dallas become a world class city!

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

It seems to me that with all the museums leaving or closing that Fair Park is dying.   What is left down there?

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Only the Women's Museum has left. The Railroad Museum needed to leave 5 years ago.

Go check out the new Automotive History Museum and, if you have kids, the Children's Aquarium. SOMEDAY, fingers crossed, they will finally open that summer midway.

Lightsfantastic
Lightsfantastic

The Museum of Nature and Science will be moving starting in September.

Realtime
Realtime

To the Mayor. Thank you Captain obvious.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

I say open a boutique hotel with a kick-ass bar in Fair Park, sort of like an Art Deco Belmont Hotel, and see what happens. If nothing else, it will be full during the fair.

As for the neighborhood, well, nothing will get done in this city without another master plan/study.

RC
RC

your lips to god's ears. brilliant.

lorlee
lorlee

oh for goodness sakes, we have had more than enough studies of Fair Park.  I personally have sat through at least 2 of those studies and after that, I just refused to waste more of my time.  Just pick one of them off the shelf.  (unless you are being sarcastic here)

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Yes, I was being sarcastic about the study (but not the hotel). 

IMO, there is nothing to study. Bulldoze the blighted properties and replicate the success of Congo Street (if it is indeed a success) one block at a time. Start a Fair Park PID, build rows of those eco-friendly modular homes (like the iHouse by Clayton Homes) and watch the area improve little by little. 

NewsDog
NewsDog

master plans/studies have to be done to be sure that all the right consultants get their equity before we discover that the City has run out of money yet again.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

"For too long," the mayor said, Fair Park and its surrounding neighborhood "have been separated."

Good fences Make good Neighbors ?

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

At one time, perhaps. But not now. Eliminating some of the physical barriers to Fair Park may help tear down the emotional ones as well.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Either city government has to ask itself, "how do we leverage Fair Park?"  or city government has to ask itself, "how do we clean up and make usable 12 months out of the year Fair Park?"

Either generic-corporate-speak or real world tough questions.

Bob
Bob

Fair Park is clean and usable today.  Aside from the ridiculous parking charges (charge folks $10.00 to use a public park?) which can be avoided by riding the Green Line to the front gate, the facilities of the park are clean, safe, and pleasurable every day of the year, except when the State Fair takes over.

I have no idea what "leverage Fair Park" means.  I do know that the Park needs more activities, day and night, that are affordable and interesting to diverse groups of people.  The concerts, markets, festivals, sporting events, and shows that are offered right now comprise a good foundation--we just need more and more of them.  Not some grand theme park, but a collection of more modest attractions that give people reasons to come to the park on a regular basis.

The City has done a good job of restoring some of the luster to its jewel; now it needs to create new ways to show it off and share it with the world.  Fair Park can be to Dallas what Central Park is to New York City--and the whole city, and especially the surrounding neighborhood, will benefit greatly.

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