Friday, September 29, 2023

Fair Park First receives generous $5 million donation from Rees-Jones to fund inner-city playground

“Greenspace is vital to our children’s overall health – physically, socially, and cognitively,” said John Jenkins, Director, Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. “Children need a place to play every day in order to be active, happy and healthy.”

Fair Park First announced receipt of the generous gift of $5 million to fund the all-abilities, all-ages Children’s Playground at the Community Park, which is set to break ground in 2023.

The Children’s Playground is one of three playgrounds slated for the Community Park that will provide children in the surrounding neighborhoods and DFW Metroplex with a state-of-the-art, safe, inclusive place to play.

Custom play structures will be inspired by the native ecology of North Texas, including interactive water features, sensory gardens, slides carved into the topography, and whimsical sensory pieces that provoke joy and discovery. The playground will also include a splash pad, additional interactive water features, and an adjacent tot lot.


Rendering shows custom water features, slides carved into the topography, and whimsical sensory pieces and gardens inspired by the Texas ecology (Courtesy photo)

The main focus of the design will be to create opportunities for multi-generational play, explained Matrice Ellis-Kirk, Unity Co-Chair of the Fair Park Your Park Phase 1 Campaign.

“The Rees-Jones Foundation is honored to support the new Fair Park Community Park and, in particular, the Children’s Playground,” said T. Hardie, President of The Rees-Jones Foundation. Their organization hopes to see more opportunities for children, parents and families in nearby neighborhoods to enjoy the outdoors and engage with friends. The unique greenspace will also help to bring renewed vitality to the 13 neighborhoods surrounding the complex and the city as a whole.

The primary goal of the Community Park Complex is to create access to greenspace for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. The Community Park is the signature capital component in Phase 1 of the 2020 Fair Park Master Plan Update and has a funding goal of $93 million from philanthropic support.

“We have been focused and diligent in delivering on a promise made to our neighbors in providing a Community Park accessible to all and open year-round,” said Darren L. James, President, Fair Park First. “This Park is designed to be a true community asset and a direct investment in families. The significant gift from The Rees-Jones Foundation to fund the Children’s Playground supports turning this promise into reality.”

The Fair Park Your Park Phase 1 Campaign Honorary Co-Chairs are President George and Laura Bush. The Unity Co-Chairs are Ambassador Ron Kirk and Matrice Ellis-Kirk, along with Margo and Jim Keyes.

Fair Park First’s mission is to restore, revitalize, and renew the 277-acre National Historic Landmark through transformative improvements, increased attendance, and improved tenant relations, ultimately sustaining Fair Park for generations to come. In partnership with the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department and OVG360, the Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s priority is to reestablish Dallas Fair Park as one of Dallas’s premier performance and recreation venues so that it is accessible and enjoyed by all.


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