City council's back after its lunch break, and if you've got a few minutes I'd recommend tuning in to the Park and Rec budget briefing. Mike Rawlings, the former homeless czar who's now the Park Board president, is leading the presentation, and moments ago he singled out Fair Park. As in: The city spends $7.1 million "to support" Fair Park, and "we get back $4.9 million as a city."
Said Rawlings, the council has to "jump" on Fair Park: "We're getting there to break even," he said, "but we all know Fair Park could be one of the great places in the nation, and we've got to get all over Ms. Davis's district in that regard."
Rawlings, ex Pizza Hut president, acknowledges he runs a businesslike meeting. He said the council needs to make "data-driven decisions" when figuring out which pools and rec centers to keep open, and explains that Park and Rec is "probably one of the biggest businesses in Dallas going, more than any restaurant chain."
"The key," he said, "is how do we get attendance up?" He also spoke about the need to "drive customer satisfaction up and costs down," and said he too is worried that as the city spends bond money opening up more and more parks, the operations and maintenance budget will jump up -- and bite the city right in the wallet.
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And then he referred to plans to cut back mowing at parks. That, he said before asking Park and Rec director Paul Dyer to explain how that'll work, is the city's "silent killer." Said Dyer, the graffiti-abatement teams in the parks have been "let go," and lights at ballparks and security areas won't be replaced under the current budgets. Like I said, tune in. Council's about to ask questions. Tennell Atkins just said: "We are not a Pizza Hut. Kids are not a commodity."