Kids check out an educational station on the Fort Worth Botanic Garden's boarkwalk. Courtesy of FWBG.
Sept. 20, 2016
The Fort Worth City Council is considering a proposed entrance fee for the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The fees would help pay for much-needed infrastructure repairs and further enhancements to the city owned venue.
The 110-acre green space, which opened in 1938, is the oldest botanic garden in Texas and has always been free to the public.
Currently, the city pays 58 percent of the park’s $4.4 million budget. Thirty nine percent comes from earned revenue, while 3 percent comes from contributions.
As a result of a lean budget, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden has accumulated $1.5 million in yearly unmet operational needs and is at least $15 million behind in capital repairs.
To find a solution, the city hired EMD Consulting Group, to study the issue. The St. Louis-based firm looked at comparable gardens across the U.S. including the Dallas Arboretum, and found that admission fees were the norm among similar sized gardens.
The Strategic Plan also proposed that a low-cost pass could be made available to low-income residents.
Charles Dreyfuss, of Friends of Fort Worth Parks, a grassroots advocacy group, said he doesn’t have any ill feelings for the those who want to enhance the Garden but fears they will exclude many who currently enjoy the green space for free. He said a “pauper’s pass” would only help the poorest of the poor, not those who are chronically cash strapped.
“These benefactors who have done wonderful things for the park would like to make it a great place. They would like development to be faster and they don’t care who they keep out,” he said. “We just think they should take it slower and keep it free.”