Today’s Fair Park article by Jim Schutze, http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/walkout-a-week-ago-may-force-park-board-to-come-clean-on-fair-park-8541616 illustrates one of the puzzling, underlying problems with Fair Park. When noting that the proposed management agreement with the Fair Park Texas Foundation (aka the Humann Plan) provides more reliable funding for building maintenance and repair than for any other activity, he points out that this is a “key issue for the State Fair of Texas, which is Fair Park’s dominant client. Overshadowing all of these talks has been a misgiving on the part of skeptics that the proposed foundation is really only a false flag operation for the State Fair and that the so-called privatization is a ruse for turning Fair Park over to the fair.” And that’s the only possible justification mentioned.
Maybe we’re just too close to Fair Park here in Dallas. A “Can’t see the forest for the trees” moment, perhaps. This problem is almost Biblical: "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family." Most folks know where I come from on this, but I see the need to say it again anyway.
Fair Park is a National Historic Landmark.
That’s the highest recognition available to important historic sites or buildings. There are only about 2,500 in the entire country, whereas the better known and more common National Register of Historic Places has more than 1.7 million individual sites and structures listed. National Historic Landmark status is the most exclusive company, the highest recognition available. It’s recognition shared with buildings like the White House or the US Capital building in DC, or San Jacinto Battlefield or the Alamo in Texas. You may be tempted to say “That’s no Alamo”, but yes it is. It’s OUR Alamo. Fair Park is the most important, most historic site and buildings we have or are ever likely to have, and it’s widely recognized as comparable in importance to the Alamo. Except maybe in its home town. So how about a little love for this treasure, and some recognition that Fair Park deserves to be first in line for a change. It has been neglected for decades. Right now, we’re quickly losing something that is not a dream or a vision, but an important reality. The list of critical physical needs is staggering and if we still want Fair Park it cannot be expected to wait for help much longer. I still want it. I want it very badly.
So this is my vote for the management contract up for a possible vote on Thursday. I encourage all of the Park Board members to vote for it and send it on to Council. For all the questions about future plans and criticism of the agreement, justified and otherwise, it gets the most important part right. That benefits everybody.