More than 200 attendees made their way to King of Glory Lutheran Church to hear a panel discussion hosted by CandysDirt.com about the future of Fair Park. (Photos: Lisa Stewart Photography)
Despite a last minute venue change (I’ll let Candy ‘splain that, it’s a lulu) more than 200 concerned Dallasites slipped under LBJ last night to hear a qualified panel of speakers add their voice to others dismayed by the runaway freight train the Fair Park redevelopment plan is on.
For those who missed, Candy led a panel that included:
Don Williams, former CEO of Trammell Crow Founder of Foundation for Community Empowerment, Frazier Revitalization Inc., and the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas. For this work, he received the prestigious Dallas Linz Award.
Byron Carlock, Head of Price Waterhouse Coopers’ U.S. real estate practice. He works on strategic planning and property transactions including capital formation and business plan execution. He’s a process and implementation guy with an MBA from Harvard.
State Rep. Eric Johnson, for District 100 is the vice chair of the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development. He’s also a Harvard graduate.
Angela Hunt, a previous Dallas City Council member who, in 2010, was awarded the Virginia MacDonald Leadership Award leadership by the League of Women Voters of Dallas.
Jon Anderson, lil’ old me.
Jon Anderson, Candy Evans, Byron Carlock, Angela Hunt, Eric Johnson, and Don Williams
We may have been in a church, but there was no bully pulpit employed, no whine-a-thon. I opened my comments with what I feared could be a quote from our future, ”
“In the three years since the Mayor announced a plan to transform a derelict downtown rail yard into a dazzling park for the new millennium, the project has turned into an expensive public-works debacle that can be traced to haphazard planning, design snafus and cronyism.” – Chicago Tribune comment as Millennium Park opened four years late and costs soared from $150 million to $475 million.
As such, “Concerned” was the most often used word of the evening. We were concerned about:
- The lack of public input in the plan
- The lack of contract and financial transparency
- The lack of dialogue (we’ve been lectured to, not involved)
- The lack of a “request for proposal” process to seek and understand other options
- The lack of rigid, pro-city contract language
- The lack of contingency planning (what happens when — not if — it goes over budget?)
- The disconnect between what’s needed and what’s funded
I will preface by saying that hours before our gathering, Preservation Dallas sent an invitation to the City Council’s session on Monday. Within that notice were two links. One was to an art-filled presentation from May that has DRAFT watermarked on most pages. The second was the management contract with Walt Humann’s Fair Park Texas Foundation.
The management contract has been updated since the highly edited DRAFT version was approved by the Parks Board. Some things, like the 6- to 7-acre community park now have a hard date for its construction (dependent on 2017 bond money). There is a small addition of Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) support. So, there has been some listening going on. But it’s still troubling that the Parks Board approved what could only be described as a work in progress. It’s a point I made several times last night. What sane business would proceed with a DRAFT contract for a 30-year investment plan? None. And yet, here we are, asking Parks Board and Dallas City Council to vote on just such a document.