A Plan for Fair Park: Bulldoze It

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
Over at The Dallas Morning News uniblog, my former colleague Robert Wilonsky has an item keeping us up to date on plans to turn Fair Park in South Dallas into a year-round commercial amusement park, an idea about which I have no personal objections or, for that matter, especially strong feelings.

But wouldn't it be better to bulldoze most of Fair Park? It's 277 acres of worn-out crap that stands empty the vast majority of the year. We keep coming up with variations on the same weak old themes, like preserving it as one big architectural museum.

Most of it was built in 1936 for the Texas Centennial as a kind of fake ersatz fake museum in the first place. So now our big idea is to make it a museum of fake museums? Yeah, that'll bring the crowds running, waving their money and storming the gates.

Thumbnail image for Fair Park Sculpture Installation1.jpg
Even the sculptures at Fair Park look like they want to get the hell out.
I am not talking about the State Fair itself. Errol McKoy, who runs the State Fair, is the one guy out there who knows how to sell tickets. The State Fair under his tutelage has been Fair Park's single big success story. We should do everything we can to keep him in business, and if that's what this year-round amusement park idea is about, more power to him.

But I mean the rest of it. There are too many dusty old relics out there tottering on the brink of ruin -- obscure little institutions run by their own weird little geezer patrols. I say call out the big Cats. Knock those suckers down. It's time anyway for those people to pack up their fiddles and get the hell on out of the Dust Bowl.

Think of all the better bigger things we could do with that much land. Just for instance, we could do what Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell did with his football field and plow it up and turn it into a farm.

There's enough land at Fair Park to create a real farm, a farm-iversity, maybe, where people could come to learn organic techniques. Sorrell would be a great guy to run it. In fact there's an idea -- scrape everything but the State Fair campus itself and turn it all over to Paul Quinn.

Just make something happen, instead of dawdling along acting precious about it and watching everything rot into the ground. That's the bad thing. There's this whole Friends-of-Fair-Park social phenomenon that reminds me of really bad hospice care. With friends like that, you need to shop for caskets.

Hey, I was as big a whiner as anybody about all of the major cultural institutions decamping for the shiny new Arts District downtown. I still think the Arts District looks and feels like an Albert Speer nightmare, and I probably prefer decaying crap, when it gets down to it, to the smug materialism of the new place.

But, you know, it's not up to me, and the jury is kind of in. The city's cultural energy has pulled up stakes and migrated, and a big reason for the migration is the utter failure of the old institutions at Fair Park to do what McKoy has done with the fair itself -- get up off their asses and sell some damn tickets.

Now some of the new stuff at the Arts District is limping financially. It's probably time to stop trying to split the baby, acknowledge that the Arts District is the heir apparent and concentrate our efforts and resources there.

I'm just sick of being nagged about Fair Park, like it's my personal duty somehow to do down there and patronize it, even if I think most of it is boring and depressing.

It's time for Tom Joad and the rest of the family at Fair Park to load Granny up in the old truck and make for Californy. It's time for those big Cats to be a-comin' over the horizon in a roar and a cloud of dust.

It's just time.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Marlin
Marlin

Bulldoze it all.  And I'm talking Fair Park and everything between I-30 and 175. 

Marlin
Marlin

While the bulldozers are on the ground, they need to go ahead and knock down all the crack houses, abandoned homes, crummy apts, etc. within a mile of that place.  On second thought, just turn everything into dirt from I-30 down to 175.  

Bungalowed
Bungalowed

Let's just assume it's a fire-starting troll of an article and get to the point that Fair Park does need a clear and viable plan for year-round use if it is to develop (financially) beyond its current state.  The buildings are indeed important from an architectural and historical perspective, as the most intact period fair site in the country.  Unfortunately, it seems we have more so a situation like Flushing Meadows site (1939 and 1964 World's Fair) with few amenities, yet far more buildings than that location -- rather than a situation as with Balboa Park in San Diego, which has its early fair buildings fully occupied with a combination of museums, restaurants, etc. The latter has the advantage of being located centrally, however.  Much could be done with commercial development within the major buildings of our park, however, as the interiors are largely unfinished warehouse spaces which could be fitted out for modern commercial use.  While a "big mall" may not be the most thrilling prospect, a proper mix of food, retail, and even residential development within the site, preserving the exteriors and landscaping as an unique park setting, could be just the ticket.  

guest
guest

I can see it now, at the University's games the battle cry would be... "No Justice, No Peace!" (Sorry guys.  Somebody had to say it though.)

Bob the Snob
Bob the Snob

Just rename Fair Park the Village II, build a bunch of condos in it, add several dog parks and allow flag football to be played in the Cotton Bowl.  It's the Dallas way.

Guest
Guest

Fair Parks buildings aren't the problem. It's the old baby boomers - over 60 - who are in charge. They refuse to give any power to their positive and energetic younger brothers and sisters who have been waiting to take over the creative reins of this city. They will never let that happen. In fact, they are not. Have you noticed when they finally replace themselves, they've been skipping us and hiring 30 year-olds? Pathetic!  

Lakewoody
Lakewoody

20/25 years ago Science Place was great, I remember going there in school and it was nice and had tons of exhibits - they still have the butterfly garden, but thats kind of a dump too - but should be a top 10 wedding destination in Dallas - which ultimately Fair Park should be as well - weddings, events, bar mitzvahs, gallerys, restaurants, use the band shells and have live music there, but it needs millions in renovations - it's a dump and there's no way around it - 

CPS
CPS

I completely agree. I took the kids to the Science place this weekend for this first time. What a dump. I can see why the Perot Museum is needed. I know the other buildings are in the same sort of state. Since we're not going to make their maintenance a priority, let's do something useful with them. 

Paysonknapp
Paysonknapp

Totally agree, Something Dallas is new at and not all together good at is ADAPTIVE REUSE People here still view OLD is BAD, NEW is GOOD. Complete lack of vision and architectural sinserity.Yet somwhow DALLASite LOVE France / Paris, etc. Look at all the fake chatuau's?, Why can't they appreciate our own historic buildings, or for that matter a REAL downtown, where people walk on the streets and NOT in frikkin tunnells. 

Chiggers!
Chiggers!

*ha ha* You just compared Fair Park in Dallas with the Taj Mahal. Hyperbole, much?

Pretty Perry
Pretty Perry

Most Expositions and Worlds Fairs were meant to be temporary and when they ran their course they were torn down with a few select buildings left.  Effiei Tower, San Franciso Palace of Fine Arts, Seattle Space Needle, The Atomium, The Unisphere are all good examples where the landmarks were left but the surrounding area developed or turned into park land.  Leave the Esplanade, Cottonbowl and bulldoze the other structures.  Not a bad idea.

El Pinche Derelicto
El Pinche Derelicto

i have an even grander idea -  let's study it.  That way we'll be sure nothing ever happens.

Starman
Starman

Way to post something relevant to the article.....racist asshole.

sportzjunkman
sportzjunkman

like a bad Andy Rooney - skipping over his garbage from now on. Robert W. has been quite entertaining over there at the DMN.

Joe L
Joe L

Fair Park is the largest surviving collection of art Deco architecture in the WORLD. It definitely is worth preserving no matter what they use it for, even nothing.  The architecture is stunning. If Schutze lived in India, he'd want to tear down the Taj Mahal.  Typical Dallas mentality.  Tear down some thing beautiful and replace it with some thing tasteless and trendy.

Bob
Bob

The City of Dallas is simply not the kind of place that lends itself to creating and maintaining buildings or monuments for the ages. See also: extreme heat, rapid growth, economy dependent on commercial real estate.

Gat2KeepOnMovin
Gat2KeepOnMovin

You know Jimmie would be shitting his pants all over this blog trying to position himself as a warrior for the underclass if that was taking place

Jeremy Turner
Jeremy Turner

I think this one-off events don't justify the amount of time it lies dormant. Fair Park could be utilized differently year-round and still be able to host these events. Yes, I do know that the Irish Music Festival, the Electric Daisy Festival, Taste of Dallas, 4th of July fireworks, and all of those happen at the park. Clearly. But to say that the park, as it is right now, is a requirement for these events to happen is short-sighted. Huge, fading, empty structures that aren't cared for clearly are an eyesore, not treasures. I don't have a solution, but "bulldoze it" sounds like as good as place as any to start.

Bob
Bob

Agreeing with Schutze? Are you getting soft?

Anon
Anon

Jerry would not have put it there because people would have taken DART and then how can he make money on parking? 

Bob
Bob

Not true, Lee. He definitely wanted to build there, but certain politicians - and NOT Laura Miller - were worried about their re-election.

JimS
JimS

There's a serious idea weaving its way through all of this. In order to be credible, historic preservation needs to be damned selective, almost curatorial. You have to pick your targets well. This target is way too messy and formless. We need to pick and choose a few things worth keeping,  consult McKoy closely about what the Fair needs done, then come up with a big new idea for the rest of it. The way it is now, it just sits there reeking of defeat. Fair Park needs to be an object of pride and excitement. Please don't tell me anybody really feels that way about it now.  

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall

Dallas already has a track record with "amusement parks" Love Field ice rink was built as a part of the "Llove Entertainment Center" project. Llove was a corporation founded by Mr. Goyer to convert the Love Field terminal into a commercial recreation establishment. This conversion came after the commercial airline traffic moved to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, leaving the existing airport terminal vacant. The Llove Entertainment Center consisted of a roller skating rink, dancing area, snack bar, exercise area and ice rink. Chronology April 1973 - Initial discussions and proposal for Amusement Center. April 1974- Council approves Amusement Center proposal of C.W. Goyer, Jr. March 1975 - Woodlawn Corp. installs Ice Rink. April 1975 - Walnut Construction Co. - alterations to the Love Field Terminal for Llove project. May 1975 - Terminal alterations begin. November 1975 - "Llove" opens. May 10, 1978 - "Llove" closed by City Council.

Lisa Merito
Lisa Merito

I usually agree with Jim.  Just not today.  My family spends a lot of time at Fair Park.  It is for families and we love it out there!  

NOWiGETit
NOWiGETit

@CPS The Science Place museum IS the Perot Museum.  They moved all of their quality exhibits over there and then created a ton of new ones.  The Science Place as it was before the move was not a dump...it was a huge attraction for families, school field trips and more.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...