Fair Park Foundation Proposal Update: Two New Meetings South of I-30 Two Weeks Before “Vote”

Future of Fair park mtgOn Thursday evening, Dallas City Councilwoman for District 7, Tiffinni Young, held an evening meeting at Fair Park in the African American Museum to fully inform her constituents about the Humann Plan for Fair park.

John Jenkins from the Dallas Park & Recreation Board was there to explain proposal basics, and Walt Humann took the stage with microphone to talk details. We are posting videos of the meeting here. Full disclosure: they were created by The Foundation for Community Empowerment, founded by Don Williams.

Just for your information, the videos are broken into eight segments. The meeting started with Mr. Jenkins, then Walt Humann took the stage, then Tiffinni Young wrapped.

Instead of offering Q&A with the audience immediately after the presentation, Tiffinni explained they would have break out groups, one with her, one with Mr. Humann, one with Adam McGough.

Young, McGough, and Monica Alonzo are the three Dallas City Council members charged with negotiating and revising the contract presented at the Dallas City Council briefing August 29.

At least one of the attendees thought the break-out method was unusual – I have been to many seminars and while break-out groups usually occur within a meeting, I have never seen them used as AFTER a meeting, unless you come back to everyone and “report” on what each group produced. This gentleman used this as another example of the City’s refusal to discuss the Fair Park Foundation plan openly. Why NOT an audience Q&A?

African American Museum

I caught up with Adam McGough and asked him if he thought the lack of an RFP (request for proposal) process as required by state law would be a problem, as fellow Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston and others have suggested.

No, he said. City attorneys have assured them there is no problem.

Earlier, someone mentioned they heard Adam talk of private funds coming through (or about to come through) that would satisfy state law.

“The city attorneys say it’s okay,” Adam told me.

It is good at have at least one attorney on the negotiation panel. I asked Adam what kind of law he practices: general commercial litigation.

If you cannot listen to all the tapes, do at least listen to Walt Humann. Quickly recapping, he said that you need to repair buildings first to bring in business. But he said there is some confusion that the Foundation is all about fixing up those buildings, and that’s it. No, he said, his plan is not just about fixing up old buildings. But he continued his theme that donors won’t want to donate new money with the buildings in their current state. We need to spend money to attract money.

Which reminds me. I found this article in the Dallas Business Journal about a real estate partnership between the city and The State Fair:

To help enhance the livestock events at the fair, Glieber plans to improve the quality of the facilities. Already, the fair is undergoing a renovation of its livestock auction facility.

The arena soon will be torn down so that crews can build the 55,000 square-foot Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center, a project with a price tag upwards of $14 million. The center is the result of a partnership between the city of Dallas and the fair, both of which will own the facility.

The article was written in 2014 … that’s two years to see how the city and State Fair have fared. Is this Briscoe Livestock Center covered in the Humann’s plan?

Humann made it clear that mistakes were made in the past, including an inappropriate level of funding for the upkeep of the buildings. That was the reason why his plan includes generous adjustments upwards for inflation.

He also hit the audience with the cold reality of venue competition:

“If we think these people are going to come here and throw money here, no!” he said, “There is just too much competition!”

That would be in Arlington, Frisco, and Uptown at American Airlines Center.

He promised to develop a master plan and the very first project would be a neighborhood park, that would be “50 million times larger than a postage stamp.” Or at least larger than Klyde Warren Park.

The foundation will have to work hard to get funding: “No one is going to fund Fair Park unless the City backs Fair Park first,” he said. And he explained that not 100 percent of the concrete parking can be removed.

“We have parking needs,” said Walt, meaning for the State Fair, Gexa Pavilion, and the Music Hall. While the plan is calling for a 650-slot underground parking garage, he would like to look at dual use for the parking lots that will stay. He mused on utilizing a covering material on the parking lots that could be rolled up, much like professional football and soccer teams do. (Turf?)

But just making the parking lots vanish was not feasible, Walt said. Parks require drainage, irrigation, etc. that would make them multi-use.

You can view the tapes below. Stay tuned, though, because there was a lively panel discussion at Paul Quinn College Saturday morning sponsored by the African American Leadership Institute with Mayor Rawlings, Walt Humann, Don Williams, Royce West, John Wiley Price (really!) and Michael Phillips (author of White Metropolisthat was said to be full of fireworks. We hope to be able to show you THAT video very soon.

2 Comment

  • I attended this meeting. One of the items I found most striking was the description of the Foundation’s first project – according to Walt Humann the development of an 8 acre “signature park” for the community to enjoy year round.

    Let’s put this in perspective –
    * Fair Park is 277 acres. This park is less than 3% of the Park
    * Eight acres is the equivalent of 8 football fields
    * Because the location would remove most surface parking for Gexa Pavilion a 650 car underground garage would need to be constructed prior to the park’s completion

    So in reality, the Foundation’s first project would be a $30,000,000+ underground parking garage for an entertainment venue so that an 8 ace park could exist.

    Please someone, anyone, explain the priorities here???