The nonprofit management group in charge of Fair Park’s operations is ahead of schedule on fundraising and on track to deliver a new community park by spring of 2024. Fair Park First and its partners gave their annual update to the city’s Park and Recreation Board this week, which celebrated momentum: they’re raising money, the new park’s design phase is moving into schematics, and they’ve held more than 800 community meetings to gather input from surrounding neighborhoods to inform its design.
When the City Council approved the master plan for the overhaul of the 277-acre art deco treasure in 2020, it gave Fair Park First and its partners five years to complete the first phase. The master plan’s cornerstone is an 11-acre community park, which will transform a parking lot at the southeast corner of Fair Park.
This portion, bordered by Fitzhugh Avenue and Lagow Street, was once a neighborhood of about 300 homes that were seized through eminent domain, bulldozed, and paved over. Fences went up, and it was used sparingly for parking and storage for the State Fair of Texas. But the city’s intent, as detailed in a report from 1966, was to force out Black residents so White attendees of the fair didn’t have to see them. In all, 52 acres were taken.
Since then, South Dallas has not shared in the economic success of its northern neighbors. The area became a dead zone, fenced off and inaccessible, nothing but empty, sun-soaked concrete except when cars filled it during events. Brian Luallen, the CEO of Fair Park First, again acknowledged this history in introducing the park.
“This would’ve been an area that was residential that was taken through eminent domain many years ago,” he said. “Here, we envision a front porch that reintroduces the park campus to the surrounding community.”
The design brings in the fence line by about two blocks, providing access that doesn’t involve a gate. Early conceptual designs showed a large civic lawn flanked by play areas, a pavilion, a water feature, and native grasses and trees. Now, Luallen said, the conceptual phase is evolving into schematics.Read More