Texas Parks and Wildlife Files Petition to Take Back State Park

September 12, 2023

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) filed a petition in early September to take Fairfield State Park from landowner Todd Interests through eminent domain. This decision follows months of discussion after the park closed earlier this spring when Todd Interests purchased the property. Todd Interests declined TPWD’s most recent offer of $103 million, which is the same amount they paid to Vistra Energy, the company that sold the land to Todd Interests.

TPWD was leasing the land since the park’s opening in 1976 until Vistra Energy decided to sell it in 2018. Vistra offered the land to TPWD for $110 million, but TPWD turned down the offer at the time because they were only interested in the 1,820-acre parcel that housed the park, not the entire 5,000 acres.

TPWD says they have invested about $80 million toward park improvements over the years, and Todd Interests says they have already invested about $1 million a month in construction costs since purchasing the property.

Special Commissioners To Evaluate Fair Compensation

Now that the legal process has begun, Freestone County’s district court judge will appoint a panel of three nonpartisan property owners who live in the county, known as Special Commissioners, to hold a hearing and determine fair market value of the property. TPWD can deposit the amount awarded by the Special Commissioners in the Court registry and forcibly take possession of the park.  Either party has the ability to appeal the award, which would lead to a civil trial on the amount of final compensation owed to the landowner.