Four of the Dallas Park Board's 15 members have asked the city’s procurement department to shelf its pursuit of a private manager for Fair Park until the park board has a chance to weigh in.
“The current process has bypassed the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Board, the body responsible for managing and maintaining Dallas parks, including Fair Park,” Park Board Vice President Jesse Moreno said in a letter earlier this week. The letter was addressed to the head of the city’s procurement department.
The city had been speeding ahead with turning the 277-acre exposition park in South Dallas over to a private group run by Walt Humann, a confidant of the mayor, when a city attorney’s opinion killed the deal. Newly appointed City Attorney Larry Casto told the mayor and City Council on Oct. 13 that state law requires a process of open bidding.
But even that process has been hamstrung. Critics balked at a plan backed by the mayor to require bidders to submit to a prequalification process even before they could bid. Now Moreno and three other park board members are saying even the prequalification process is not legitimate because it bypasses the park board, which has dominion over Fair Park under the city charter.
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Their letter states:
“In addition, the time frame for submitting the Fair Park RFQ is too short. It is apparent that this expedited process is a deliberate attempt to exclude qualified candidates from preparing proposals in order to benefit a pre-ordained candidate. This is a violation of the city's procurement process and harms the city's fiduciary responsibilities to its citizens.”
The letter was also signed by park board members Barbara Barbee, Becky Rader and Paul Sims. All four signers were critics of the original Walt Humann plan.