Bret Redman

Fair Park

Breaking: Park Board Members Stage Walk Out, Foil Vote on Fair Park Plan

There's some pretty dramatic stuff unfolding down at City Hall right now.

This morning, the Dallas Park and Recreation Board was briefed on the controversial plan to pass over management of Fair Park to a newly created private nonprofit. That proposal, which has been batted about for months, has come under fire for its lack of transparency, hefty price tag for tax payers, and empty guarantees that it will turn Fair Park into a park that engages and addresses the needs of the community.

That hasn’t stopped the backers of the plan, which is driven by former Hunt Oil exec Walt Humann, from trying to get it approved by City Hall. Before it can get council approval, however, the plan needs to make its way through the park board. That was supposed to happen this morning. However, when the item was moved to a vote, five members of the park board — Barbara Barbee, Paul Sims, Becky Rader, Jesse Moreno and Marlon Rollins — got up and left the room. That left the park board without a quorum, meaning the meeting could not proceed and the vote could not take place.

From what I understand, city attorneys are currently hacking out what this all means. In the meantime, you can watch the walkout in this video stream. It begins just before the 31 minute mark.

As they say, this one is developing . . .

Clarification, 4 p.m.: Today’s meeting was a work session, and there was never going to be a vote taken on the plan. The walkout does call into question, however, whether an anticipated Aug. 4 vote by the park board can take place.


Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...









View All

View All


  • Greg Brown


  • Larry Brautigam

    Woohoo! Political courage. THAT is a Thrilla on Marilla!

    I guess the smell got too big to ignore.

    • Adam Shulman

      created an account to upvote this.

  • Brenda Marks


    • Brenda Marks

      That’s to Jesse Moreno and Paul Sims!

  • Ted Barker

    Good! Note: this was a meeting forced on the board members during council recess. I say, big NO, NO! Meeting should not have taken place. These folks need a break from a tough schedule just as much as the Council. My rep: D-9 for Mark Clayton: Becky (hero) Rader.

  • That was a HORRIBLE walkout. It wasn’t even caught on camera. One minute Willis Winters is on camera, talking about parks board business, and then the next minute there are some empty chairs. They snuck out in total silence. Where’s the drama?!

    Aside from that, it was a great move by five folks with grit. Our thanks to each of them.

  • dallasmay

    It’s time to acknowledge that these negotiations have failed. Throw out what we have and move forward with something new.

    Here is my plan (thrown out to the internets for anyone to listen):

    Have the city’s lawyers spend the next few months drafting an official “Request for Proposals” (RFP). Let all the various entities that wish to do so (Walt, Don, The SFoT, Cuban, Trump, The Salvation Army -whoever) officially and publicly present their proposals for Fair Park and then let the City Staff choose the best deal based on pre-determined criteria as part of the RFP and the City Council to approve it, and the voters approve any bond request.

    My bet would be that Humann’s group will still be the only proposal, but then at least it will be done the right way and we can all judge the plan for what it is. And everyone else will have been given the opportunity to put-up or shut-up. That would go a long way to mending the distrust.

  • Paul Sims tells me that the walkout was unplanned. It just happened spontaneously. He created a 10-page document for today’s meeting, suggested edits to the proposed contract. Max Wells told him they would not discuss it. Sims moved to overrule him but lost on a tie 6-6.

    Here’s a link to that document: