We attended this morning's Dallas Park and Recreation Board meeting at Dallas City Hall hoping to learn more about one item of interest we noticed on the agenda: "Museum of Nature and Science Charter School," which, we assumed, would have fleshed out details concerning plans to turn the existing Fair Park museum into a science and math outpost for at-risk children once the Perot Museum of Nature & Science at Victory Park opens in September 2013.
But during the briefing session, the board's president, Tom Baker, announced that "item No. 4" -- the one about the charter school -- "has been pulled." Baker explained that Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm "wanted to study that a little more" before Fair Park Executive General Manager Daniel Huerta briefed the board. So we've got a call in to Huerta, who's out of the office at present, to see what's what on that front.
But we didn't come away from the meeting empty-handed: After the jump, you'll find the first-ever Samuell Properties Annual Report. Those playing along at home will recall this was necessitated by the Texas Attorney General's Office, which, earlier this year, threatened the city with legal action if it didn't detail "current operations of all Samuell Park Properties [and] a future plan for the Samuell Park Property known as Samuell Farm."
Speaking of ...
"Do we have any plans, maybe in the back room, for Samuell Farms?" asked one board member.
"No," said Park and Rec director Paul Dyer. "There are a lot of properties we don't have plans on."
The report details how much money the city has spent on maintaining the Samuell properties -- a little more than a million bucks during the last fiscal year. But this is probably the more interesting item:
The W.W. Samuell Permanent Foundation is held by Bank of America. Its market value at the beginning of October 2008 was $7,073,671.25; its value at the end of September 2009 was $6,725,793.68. About $55,000 of the foundation's $264,310.40 revenue during the fiscal year went to "bank fees" and "additional" services, which several board members believe to be excessive. Matter of fact, they're going to call the bank and ask for a meeting, probably in February or March, to see just why the fees are so high and if they can be reduced.
"They are trading a lot," said Park and Rec's financial manager Margie Oliver, who was presenting the report to the board. "I'm not sure what else they're doing."
To which Baker added, "I think that's something we need to investigate."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.