Board to vote soon on proposal to privatize Fair Park

Fair Park could soon be owned by someone other than the City of Dallas.

The Dallas Parks and Recreation Board will decide next week on a proposed privatization plan for the city-owned Fair Park.

The board was expected to give a recommendation on Thursday, but only discussed a proposal. If approved, Fair Park would be run under a private-public partnership with the City of Dallas.

The plan would make the Dallas landmark a year-round destination with green space and attractions for families. Currently the park is mainly used about three weeks out of the year for the State Fair of Texas. There are museums and a concert venue, but for the most part it just sits empty for most of the year.

The 277-acre park opened in 1936. A lot of the buildings and infrastructure need some serious repairs. Upgrades including cameras, underground parking and improvements to the surrounding community are estimated to cost about $181 million.

City officials said in order to get visitors they need to address the perception that the area is unsafe and dirty.  But they said Fair Park has a lot going for it already. It’s near Downtown, near several major highways and easily accessible via DART.

Once the Parks and Recreation Board decides on a recommendation, the plan goes before the full council.  If approved, the non-profit foundation could take over as soon as Oct. 1.