DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The future of a Dallas landmark could be decided Thursday. Officials with Fair Park are in the midst of a meeting at Dallas City Hall, and could be voting on an agreement with some big money at stake — more than $400 million over the next 20 years.
Park members on Thursday focused exclusively on the proposed Fair Park Texas Foundation Management agreement, which would put the landmark in the hands of a private nonprofit group. The proposal would give the group $12.5 million in the first year. The amount would then shoot up to $20.7 million for 18 years straight, starting in the third year.
An additional $200 million could be put into Fair Park through another 10 years of extension options — bringing the possible final total to about $600 million over 30 years.
The decision would undoubtedly shape renovation plans to the 277-acre park over the next few decades.
Thursday’s meeting comes on the heels of a contentious discussion two weeks ago, when a similar vote fell apart at the seams and five park officials walked out of the conversation arguing that they did not know enough about the plan.
Marlon Rollins is one of the park officials who left that previous meeting. “I don’t think the majority of the board is not against the process,” he explained. “It’s about the structure and transparency about who and how it’s ran.” Park board members were hopeful that more clarity would be found during Thursday’s meeting.
Even before park officials got started on Thursday, around 30 concerned citizens presented their thoughts about the proposed plan. Some were in favor of the deal and praised the project’s leader. But many wanted to delay the vote once again, calling for still more time and transparency.
“Eliminate the secrecy for the credibility of this board,” one woman said.
“I do support the plan,” added another woman. “Obviously, there are some problems.”
One man said that he wanted the project delayed because he had the money to privately fund renovations. “I’m bringing $350 million to redo Fair Park,” he said, “so I don’t believe the city should have to pay.”
Shortly after the citizens spoke, park official Yolanda Williams got fired up and called out four members of the board for being influenced by the Dallas City Council. The meeting is still underway — hours after it began — and is expected to include several more rounds of discussion before any decision is reached.