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As Fair Park Gets Its Big Award, Mayor Says City Needs to Find a Way to "Leverage" Historic Site

The council -- well, most of it, anyway -- collects Fair Park's prize for being one of the best public spaces in America.
The council -- well, most of it, anyway -- collects Fair Park's prize for being one of the best public spaces in America.
Photo by Anna Merlan

You may recall that back in October we told you Fair Park had been named a Great Public Space by the American Planning Association. Well, during the council's lunch break today, just after he got emotional about the children, Mayor Mike Rawlings gathered with the city council, Parks Board chair Joan Walne and Ann Bagley of the City Plan Commission to collect that award and sing the park's praises.

"Fair Park is an asset to our region and our state ever year," Rawlings said, from the Texas-OU game to the corn dogs at the State Fair to the Hall of State. "And it still functions after more than 70 years. Think about that." A few moments later, council member Carolyn Davis called for a standing ovation for Fair Park, and everyone in the room happily obliged.

Rawlings pointed out too that it's been just 10 years since Fair Park was named as one of the 11 most endangered historical places in America. But, he said, there is "still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of tough decisions that we as a council are going to make and the community are going to make, to make sure the park becomes a vibrant place that people come to."

"For too long," the mayor said, Fair Park and its surrounding neighborhood "have been separated." The city, he said, needs to find a way to unite them. "In the upcoming bond initiative and the elections," he said, city government has to ask itself, "how do we leverage Fair Park?"


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