Park coming to Fair Park: Dallas City Council approves master plan

One of the plan’s first priorities is to create a new community park, which will have free programming for children, adults and seniors.

Community members are one step closer to seeing a park at Fair Park after Dallas City Council approved the park’s master plan at a meeting Wednesday.

The historic 277-acre park is best known as being the home of the State Fair of Texas from late September to October, but the city wants to attract events and community members from across North Texas year-round.

Plus, the revitalization hopes to bring amenities within walking distance that the South Dallas community around Fair Park can enjoy.

In 2018, the city approved the management of the park by private firm Spectra and nonprofit Fair Park First for $34.5 million. Those entities would manage the park for the first 10 years of a 20-year management agreement. 

The Parks and Recreation Board approved the master plan this year in June and it was approved Wednesday by City Council.

The Fair Park Master Plan and Community plan aims to create a year-round destination and preserve the park’s legacy while bringing entertainment, culture and a welcoming place of opportunity for neighboring communities, according to the master plan presentation.

Fair Park First says the revitalization will meet “the needs and interests of the current institutions at Fair Park, surrounding neighborhoods and park users from the DFW Metroplex.”

Community Park plans

At a Council meeting in 2018, there were calls to “bring an actual park” to Fair Park. Now, that will soon become reality.

The Fair Park Master Plan says there will be 52 acres of new or expanded parks and open spaces and a proposal for 1,270 new trees on-site.

One of the plan’s first priorities is to create a new community park, which will have free programming for children, adults and seniors. In multiple meetings with community members, that was a comment that stuck — to make a park open and welcoming to all.

The approximately 11-acre park will include a large lawn, children’s play area with an interactive water feature, naturalized plants, remembrance gardens, a pavilion and moveable tables and chairs.

The next steps in the process include securing corporate partners, donors and sponsors to make the vision a reality, said Brian Luallen, executive director of Fair Park First.

Weeks after the State Fair of Texas wrapped up in 2019, construction crews moved in to tackle $30 million in projects funded by bond taxpayers approved for Fair Park. Renovations include The Coliseum, the Hall of State, Centennial Hall, Music Hall and others.

Phase 1 improvements slated for the next one to five years include the Music Green, MLK Gateway Park, the community park and the Fitzhugh Parking Deck and surface parking.

Phase 2 improvements for the next six to 10 years will focus on a parking deck and hotel redevelopment near the current main entrance, the Cotton Bowl Plaza, MLK Connection, Midway Area and Blackland Prairie Exhibit Area and Trail, according to the master plan.

An online survey regarding the initial concept for the site received 556 responses, according to the master plan presentation. There were more than 500 people who went to 24 neighborhood association meetings.

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