Fairfield Lake State Park will reopen for visitors Tuesday for free daytime use, Stephanie Garcia, press office manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), told The Dallas Express on Monday.
The park is a popular weekend destination about 90 miles southeast of Dallas in Freestone County. It was closed to visitors on February 28 after the state was notified that the owner would not renew TPWD’s lease.
“Since closing the park in February, we have heard an outpouring from Texans who would love to visit their park,” TPWD State Parks Director Rodney Franklin said in a press release sent later Monday to The Dallas Express.
A temporary reopening plan was hatched after members of the state’s House Committee on Culture, Recreation & Tourism visited Thursday. Chairman Trent Ashby suggested the idea until developers claim the property in June or the state reaches a deal for continued use.
“While we still stand committed to reaching a compromise that would save Fairfield Lake State Park for future use, our team will be working hard to keep this gem as accessible as possible for as long as possible,” Franklin said.
The developer buying the property wants to build luxury homes and a golf course.
“Losing Fairfield Lake State Park would represent a significant step backward in our efforts to expand outdoor recreational opportunities for Texas’ booming population,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III said in a February news release.
Another TPWD director, David Yoskowitz, said the demand for outdoor activity in Texas exceeds supply. He said the state worked to buy at least part of the property.
“This is an unprecedented loss of a state treasure for Texans,” Yoskowitz said.
The decision in February riled Texas politicians, who wanted to at least keep it open for day use. State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), chairman of the Senate Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs Committee, said in the release that the state cannot lose a state park to development.
“Fairfield Lake State Park is a treasure that Texas residents have been visiting for 47 years to experience its beauty and recreational activities. The park “cannot be replaced,” Perry said in a news release from TPWD.
“Some 80,000 hardworking Texans will lose a place of solitude, sport fishing, and priceless memory-making if the park is closed,” Perry said.