x
Breaking News
More () »

Faith leaders sign letter opposing Fair Park plan

On the eve of a specially called Dallas City Council meeting, there is growing opposition to a plan to hand over management of Fair Park to a non-profit foundation.

On the eve of a specially called Dallas City Council meeting, there is growing opposition to a plan to hand over management of Fair Park to a non-profit foundation.

A group of 14 faith leaders authored an open letter to Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings and the city council urging them to delay action on the future of the 277-acre Fair Park.

The city council will hold a specially called meeting at 1pm on Monday.

The full page ad appeared in the Sunday edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Pastor Frederick Haynes with Friendship West Baptist Church in South Oak Cliff name is the first signature on the letter. He says it was a group effort.

"We decided to not hold our peace but instead speak up and speak out,” Haynes said. “Putting the brakes on this does not mean the project is over, it says we want input.”

Included in the letter is a push for what the group calls a "significant park" in the heart of South Dallas, before any repairs to existing structures are undertaken. It does not say what the size of a significant park should be.

Rawlings supports a plan that would create the Fair Park Texas Commission which advocate investing millions in repairing historic art deco buildings and turning the park into more of a year round attraction.

The mayor said Sunday that he respects everyone that signed the letter and he agrees with much of what they wrote.

"I welcome their voices as the city moves forward for the betterment of Fair Park and the surrounding South Dallas neighborhoods." Rawlings told News 8 in a statement.

Preservation Dallas also supports the proposed plan which has gone through more than a year of planning and dozens of public meetings, according to executive director David Preziosi.

"This is a national historic landmark – we only have two of those here in Dallas," Preziosi said. "If we continue to let it fall apart we’re going to have nothing left.”

What the city does have is a protracted political fight between competing visions for Fair Park.

Rawlings and civic leader Walt Humann want to fix up the buildings first. If approved by the city council, Humann would become chairman of the new non-profit foundation.

Opponents want more emphasis on green space, that "significant park" inside Fair Park, which brings us back to the ad.

Haynes says he didn't pay for the full page ad and claims he doesn't know who did.

The Foundation for Community Empowerment and it's founder and civic leader J. McDonald Williams have been vocal opponents of the mayor's plan for sometime.

Williams did not respond when asked if he paid for the letter to appear in the paper.

A similar inquiry on the financial support behind the letter when unanswered by the Dallas Morning News as of late Sunday.

No date has been set for the council to vote on the plan, but it could happen as early as September in time to include the plan in a proposed bond Dallas voters would decide on in May 2017.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out