It’s a bit long, 1 hour and 20 minutes to be exact, but this is the video you have all been waiting for. Full disclosure: it was provided by the Foundation for Community Empowerment, founded by Don Williams.

A week ago last Saturday morning, a lively panel discussion about the Fair Park proposal took place at Paul Quinn College. It was sponsored by the African American Leadership Institute and put together by state senator Royce West.

At the podium were Mayor Rawlings, Walt Humann, Don Williams, Royce West, John Wiley Price and Michael Phillips (author of White Metropolis).

Michael Phillips (who you see, above) was the first speaker, and he immediately launched into his concerns over the lack of public input, the lack of public communication, and his fears that the real estate around Fair park could become the latest victim of what he calls “domestic colonization.” I think a lot of people worry about that.

“I’m concerned by the fact that this valuable piece of Dallas real estate would be governed by a board that could meet without any public record. It’s a private corporation, right? A private foundation,” he said. Great points. Then he said this:

What’s really going on with “gentrification” is domestic colonization. And when you have a colonial relationship, that is designed to be unequal. That is not equal. You have an imperial power that extracts wealth out of a colony. That’s land, products and low wage labor, and that’s what goes on with gentrification. And then the colonial power then sells products at a grossly inflated rate and rips off the people who live in the colony. That’s what going on with gentrification. I want to make this clear.

I see Phillips’ point, particularly because of the history of this neighborhood, which is terrible. But it was really terrible in a lot of places in the world in the early part of the 20th century, NOT just in Fair Park. And it seems to me that “domestic colonization” has been going on around Fair Park for a long time. Few residents own their own homes, most are tenants. A cursory search on MLS shows few homes even for sale in this area.

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Which is why I think there is still a fighting chance for the people of this neighborhood with the right plan, a neighborhood park, and some help with home ownership. (more…)

Fair Park Ferris Wheel SM

Turning Fair Park over to a private nonprofit could be good for Dallas, if it is held accountable, Jon says.

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate. Earlier we had a post from Amanda Popken covering the Monday meeting at the Hall of State. Below, Jon Anderson puts the plan itself in his sights and shows why Mayor Mike Rawlings and Walt Humann are in a hurry to pass the Fair Park Texas Foundation 20-year contract. We join our brethren from D Magazine, Dallas Morning News, WFAA and Observer in voicing concern and skepticism.]

The City of Dallas is set to become Fair Park’s and the State Fair of Texas’ Sugar Daddy if Mayor Rawlings and Walt Humann have their way.  On Thursday, the Parks and Recreation Board is set to vote on the Humann plan for Fair Park, after five silenced board members walked out of the last meeting after Parks Board President Max Well sought to limit discussion on the plan, leaving the meeting without a quorum.  Those were five brave, and I think correct, souls.

To back up a few days, there was a flurry of activity on Monday.  First, Mayor Rawlings had a press conference to whine about a meeting later that day titled, “Our Fair Park: A Conversation About a Dallas Treasure” to which neither he nor District 7 representative Tiffinni Young were invited.  While not being invited to the stage, they certainly weren’t precluded from attending the meeting, which by all accounts they didn’t.

The meeting was a place to yet again voice concerns that have been unanswered by Humann and Rawlings.

The issue for opponents isn’t the setting up of a public-private partnership for the stewardship of Fair Park.  The issue is the shroud this plan has operated under and the fear that the management contract with the city has loosey-goosey language and blank timetables that enshrines continued opaqueness for the next 20 years (the term of the contract).

For example, requirements for public meetings and open records are apparently not in the most recently distributed management agreement. But both Rawlings and Humann claim this is a myth along with the contract’s lack of specific planning goals to reconnect the park to the neighborhood, install needed parklands and the like.

UPDATE: The updated agreement is now available as part of the Parks Board meeting agenda for Thursday. The new document does have language supporting open meetings but is unclear on public access to financial records beyond IRS Form 990.  The document is a HEAVILY edited work-in-progress with pages and pages of strike-throughs and edits visible along with a boatload of blank pages.  Hardly the sort of condition a document of this type needs to be in on the eve of a multi-million dollar vote on a multi-decade project.

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Panel 8.1.16

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate.]

UPDATE: We have the entire agenda, including the unabridged version of the Walt Humann proposal for managing Fair Park, embedded at the end of this piece.

If you care about the fate of Fair Park, you may want to show up to the Park Board meeting this Thursday. Or at least read the 20-year, $12 million management contract that the Park Board will be voting on.

Park Board Agenda

Monday night’s panel discussion on Fair Park and the potential Park Board vote on Walt Humann’s management contract filled the Hall of State (around 300 attendees.) Despite Mayor Mike Rawlings’ last-minute press conference Monday afternoon to “make sure everybody knows the exact truth of what’s happened,” that everyone’s behind this approach (a private firm managing Fair Park), that the Park Board has been talking to Walt for two years, and “now it’s time to vote.” It was all too dismissive of the community meeting scheduled for later in the day.

The community meeting was organized in less than 1 week, in response to the July 21st Park Board special work session meeting where board members walked out (see about minute 31 of the meeting) in objection to the truncated meeting agenda which limited a thorough discussion on the proposed management contract.  They are expected to vote on the management contract at the upcoming meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, which would then set it up for a city council vote. To enact the management contract for the next fiscal year, the agreement would need to be passed through council before next year’s budget is approved in September. These boards meet once a month, and the council meets twice a month with time required to put items on the agendas … you see the rush.

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