Nonprofit Funds Fair Park Playground


Rendering of a new children's playground at Fair Park | Image by Rees-Jones Foundation/Website

A $5 million donation for a new children’s playground at Fair Park has officially been secured by Fair Park First, a nonprofit which oversees park management.

This playground is one of two planned for the 18-acre Community Park complex scheduled to break ground in Fair Park next year.

Fair Park First CEO Brian Luallen said the donation would completely cover the costs of the new playground.

The grant was donated by the Rees-Jones Foundation, a faith-based organization that partners with other North Texas nonprofits to “defend the welfare of children.”

Thornton Hardie, president of the Rees-Jones Foundation, said, “Our hope is to see children, parents, and families in the 13 surrounding neighborhoods experience more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

He also wants to see them “engage with their friends in this unique green space and participate in the renewed vitality that the park will bring to our city and especially to these nearby communities.”

The playground will include interactive water features, sensory gardens, and slides built into the landscape. Luallen said the second playground, which will have an adventure theme, is expected to be fully funded by the end of the year.

“We look forward to increased philanthropic support in the coming year to make the entire community park a reality,” Luallen said, adding that construction may begin in November 2023.

“We have been focused and diligent in delivering on a promise made to our neighbors in providing a community park accessible to all and open year-round,” said Darren L. James, president of Fair Park First. “This park is designed to be a true community asset and a direct investment in families.”

John Jenkins, director of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department, emphasized the importance of giving children green spaces to play in.

“Children need a place to play every day in order to be active, happy, and healthy,” he said. “We are focused and committed to providing green space access for our community.”

Last week, the Dallas City Council passed two items relating to Fair Park and Proposition A, passed by Dallas voters during the November midterms.

Prop A allows the city to increase the hotel occupancy tax by 2%, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. It is estimated that the increased tax will raise $1.5 billion over the next 30 years. One-fifth of those funds is earmarked for Fair Park restorations, and the other 80% will be used to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

The first item is an Ordinance that officially instituted the additional 2% hotel occupancy tax and “limits its use to financing the Convention Center Expansion and Fair Park Facilities Venue Projects.”

The second item is a resolution that officially created the financial accounts to which those funds will be directed and then used for those two projects.

While Prop A garnered over 67% of the votes on election day, the measure was backed by a well-coordinated effort of Dallas’ political elite, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

In his State of the City address, Mayor Eric Johnson insisted that city officials would be held accountable for how the money will be spent.

“We shouldn’t act as if Dallas voters just handed us a blank check,” he said. “We must ensure that these transformational projects of generational consequence are completed in a responsible and accountable way.”

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