Last night the Parks and Recreation Board held a special meeting seeking public comment on the soon-to-be-voted-on management contract for Fair Park. You may think you’re experiencing déjà vu, and you may be, but from when?  There have been so many Fair Park plans tossed on the fire they make the current California blazes look small.

Most recently you probably recall Walt Humann’s Fair Park Texas Foundation plan (elbowed in by Mayor Rawlings) that made it right up to the precipice of passage before being scuttled in October 2016. (Full transparency: we at wondered early on why the Humann plan was being pushed so quickly, and why the city’s share of costs escalated over time rather than decreased.) The scuttling forced the city to initiate a real request for proposals (RFP). Three ultimately responded – Monte Anderson’s Fair Park Conservancy, Humann’s Fair Park Texas Foundation, and the winning Fair Park First (FPF). (Download a copy of the full August 2, 2018 briefing here)

Fair Park First consists of the nine-member FPF Board which is responsible for fundraising, subcontractor supervision, historic preservation and community engagement and outreach. Fair Park management, capital improvements (except those funded with bond money) and Minority and Woman Business Enterprise initiatives will be handled by Spectra. Rounding out the team is Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV) whose job it will be to update the Fair Park Comprehensive Plan and design and program the neighborhood park(s) within the whole of Fair Park.

What this plan delivers is experience. Both Spectra and BRV have done these jobs a multitude of times – and done them very successfully. BRV has transformed over 100 parks – including Klyde Warren. Spectra manages 319 properties – including the California Expo & State Fair. Their résumés speak volumes to what they can and would do for Fair Park. It’s a breadth of experience neither of the other two bidders could match. Fair Park and southern Dallas have been diddled too long to give a project of this scale to those reliant on learning-by-doing.

It’s part of the reason FPF scored 87.54 points out of 100 when judged by their financial plan, experience, project approach and Business Inclusion and Development. The other two bidders scored 65.16 and 78.34 points. (more…)