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Park and Rec Board to Get Briefed on Proposed Antique Car Museum for Fair Park

At some point today we'll shut down Unfair Park for Christmas. But as long as there's someone at Dallas City Hall, well, might as well keep on keepin' on with this sneak peek at the Park and Recreation Department board's meeting agenda for January 7, during which Daniel Huerta, executive general manager of Fair Park, will brief the board about a proposed "Texas Museum of Automotive History." Huerta, who knows the details of the deal, is out, but Barbara Kindig, assistant director of Park and Rec, is around this morning to fill in a few of the blanks.

"We've got a group proposing to do an automotive museum," she says. "They have a lot of antique cars. We're looking to set it up on a trial basis at Grand Place, which is close to Big Tex Circle. Grand Place is where, during the State Fair, you'll find the sewing machines, the hot tubs. It's a fairly nondescript building, but the lighting was redone in the last five years. But this is kind of a dream and a vision of theirs, and it would bring some attendance and energy to Fair Park."

The proposal before the board is for a one-year agreement; something that short-term does not need to be approved by the city council. "It's just a small agreement," the assistant director says, "to see if they can can get all their funding together and go forward with something more permanent." As it stands now, the museum would have to move out of Grand Place during the State Fair.

"But they've got a vision of even expanding it some point as it takes hold," Kindig says. "They'd like to create a program where kids can learn to work on cars. It's a lost art."

The city's considering the proposal just as Cresson, just southwest of Fort Worth (on 377 on the way to Granbury), is saying farewell to the Pate Museum of Transportation, which closed its doors for good yesterday after 40 years. As Bud Kennedy wrote in the Startlegram this week, the antique car and aircraft museum once attracted 7,000 a month; when it got to 70 visitors monthly, the owners called it quits.

Course, if it doesn't work out at Fair Park, this group could always take their vision across the street to the old Bama Pie building, home of the long-forgotten-about Motorsports Museum into which the city sunk $200,000 in federal community development block grant money before realizing maybe the man behind that proposal wasn't ever gonna make his dream come true. Former city council member Leo Chaney did once promise us it would be open by Christmas ... 2005.

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