Battle to Save Texas State Park Intensifies: Commission Faces Off Against Developers!

Ash Jurberg

Could there be a last-minute reprieve for a popular state park?
Photo byWikiCommons Images

Earlier this year, I wrote that Fairfield Lake State Park, a popular 1,800-acre state park open to the public for almost 50 years, had been purchased by a developer and would be closed to the public.

There have been some recent developments that may offer some hope the park can be saved.

Let's explore.

The park

Fairfield Lake State Park, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas-Fort Worth, is one of the most popular parks in Texas, offering miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The park also contains Fairfield Lake, the largest private lake in Texas.

The land was owned by Vistra Corp, which had leased it to Texas Parks and Wildlife since the 1970s. The property was listed for sale for $110 million in 2021 and sold earlier this year to a Dallas developer - Todd Interests, the developer responsible for high-end projects in downtown Dallas, such as the National and East Quarter.

They are due to take control of the property on June 13 and have plans to build a high-end gated community and private golf course on the land, which led to community outrage.

Even the founder of Buc-ee's wanted to prevent the development.

It is crystal clear that the developer plans to close down the park. To lose a gem like Fairfield Lake, it’s just horrible.” Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, founder of Buc-ee's and chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Objectors turned to legislation to try and prevent the development.

State Rep Angela Orr filed HB 2332 to use eminent domain in order o take back the lands for the state park forcefully. Eminent domain is "the legal authority that certain entities are granted that allows those entities to take private property for a public use."

The House passed the bill, but it was left pending in a Senate committee.

The latest update

Last week the Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to authorize the executive director of the Parks and Wildlife Department to "take all necessary steps to purchase approximately 5,000 acres in Freestone County, including Fairfield Lake State Park."

As such, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will convene a special meeting on June 10 to consider acquiring the land through condemnation, using eminent domain. If this occurs, Todd would need to be adequately compensated. There may be some hope that Fairfield Lake State Park remains open to the public. I will keep readers updated with any new developments.

Your thoughts

Have you visited Fairfield Lake State Park? Are you glad the state is trying to prevent to preserve the park for public use?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below and share this article with others so they can join the conversation.

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San Antonio, TX

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