As it turns out, even state parks aren’t safe from landlords. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was recently given 120 days to vacate the 50-year-old Fairfield Lake State Park so the land can be sold to a real estate developer.
ABC13 reports that The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received a lease termination notice from Vistra Corps, the owners of the 5,000-acre property. The land is being sold to real estate group Todd Interests for a whopping $110.5 million.
The park, which offered 15 miles of hiking and bike paths, a lake for fishing, swimming, and kayaking, and habitat for 250 species of birds, will be turned into an “exclusive gated community” including “multimillion-dollar homes and a private golf course,” according to the Texas Tribune.
The loss of the park isn’t just a blow to the citizens who visited. As the Dallas Morning News reports, Fairfield Park welcomed 82,000 visitors last year alone — more than it had ever had before.
And compared to other states, Texas is lacking in public parkland. The state ranks 35th in the nation for state parks per capita.
“Losing Fairfield Lake State Park would represent a significant step backward in our efforts to expand outdoor recreational opportunities for Texas’ booming population,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III stated in a press release.
Since the announcement of the lease termination on Feb. 13, many politicians and activists have stepped in to try to save the park.
Angelia Orr, the district’s representative in the Texas House of Representatives, filed a bill that would allow the department to use eminent domain to claim the land back. Texas law defines eminent domain as “the legal authority that certain entities are granted that allows those entities to take private property for a public use.”
On Twitter, parkgoers have shown an outpouring of love — and frustration — in response to the park’s announced closure.
“This is very upsetting for the surrounding community. We all grew up camping in Fairfield and it holds a special place in our hearts,” one user writes.
“Looks like they won’t stop until all of Texas is a concrete jungle,” writes another.
Many Texans also shared their fears about other public lands. One writes, “One day we’re gonna look around and ask what happened to all our wild spaces…”
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