The 7-year-old who lives in my house and I have spent the last two weekends at Fair Park while he wrapped a school project; so -- sniff -- proud. And somewhere between walking around the Cotton Bowl and sitting in on an Assassination City Roller Derby warm-up at the Coliseum and feeding the stingrays and paddle-boating the lagoon and grabbing a Sno-Cone and worshiping Woofus, we began to notice: There's a lot of ... stuff strewn about the fairgrounds. Like, for instance, concrete benches that say things like "World's Best Dad" perched beneath pergolas that would look fine in someone's backyard but really don't belong amongst the world's largest collection of Art Deco buildings, especially those parked in front of the majestic Hall of State. They're all over the place.
So I called Willis Winters, Parks and Rec assistant director and Fair Park historian, to see if he knew what the heck. He did: They're State Fair of Texas leftovers that -- why, as a matter of fact, quelle coïncidence -- the Landmark Commission's going to deal with on Monday. Because, see, when anyone wants to make the slightest change to Fair Park, they can't do so without a certificate of appropriateness. And not one of the more than two dozen displays and landscape alterations and meant-to-be-temporary structures strewn about Fair Park has a CA -- because the State Fair of Texas, which really does think it owns Fair Park, didn't see the need when it allowed the home-builders and landscape companies to leave their stuff standing after tear-down.
As Winters says, some of the displays are OK -- but it's "a balancing act," as he calls it, meaning "we've got to be more careful about what's left behind." That's not his area of concern, though; it's Landmark's. And city staff says go ahead and leave 'em till 2014. Landmark's Fair Park Task Force mightily disagrees: "After the 2011 Fair, all items that do not comply with the 'Guidelines for Fair Park Landscape Program' must be removed." Which would be all of 'em. George Dahl would not be pleased.
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