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Task force proposes admission fee to help improve visitor experience at Botanic Garden

Posted Aug. 15, 2018

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bridge in the garden
Redbud trees bloom in early spring at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

A task force has recommended a general admission fee for the Fort Worth Botanic Garden that would help improve the visitor experience, develop excellent public programs and implement key components of the master plan for the 85-year-old garden.

The proposed fee schedule will be reviewed by the Park & Recreation Advisory Board, which will make a recommendation to the City Council. Then residents will have several opportunities to comment on the fees during public meetings. Finally, the City Council must vote to approve the fees.

A strategic plan completed in 2016 recommended a single point of entry for the garden, which would improve visitor services, orientation and information. The plan also called for replacing the current admission structure — which requires visitors to pay for some features but not others — with a single general admission fee.

The task force, made up of Fort Worth residents and stakeholders, recommended charging $12 for adult admission, $6 for children 6-15 and $10 for senior citizens; children under 5 would be free. These admission fees would replace the fee currently being charged for the Japanese Garden and the Conservatory.

Annual memberships ($50 for an individual, $80 for a couple, $100 for a family) would also be offered. These memberships would provide reciprocal memberships to more than 200 gardens around the nation.

If approved, the fees would go into effect in the summer of 2019.

Similar admission fees at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and major botanic gardens across the country have been shown to dramatically improve the physical spaces and the programs at these cultural assets.

The admission fee is intended to help defray more than $15 million in deferred maintenance at the garden and also position the city to work with fundraisers in the philanthropic community to improve programming and features at the garden. Officials expect the fee to help ensure the garden’s financial sustainability into the future without placing an additional burden on Fort Worth taxpayers.

Access options being studied

The task force recommended numerous options to make the gardens accessible to low-income residents:

  • Lone Star Card discounts (SNAP/WIC Card). Discounted annual family membership would cost $30, or $2.50 per month. Includes reciprocal admission to other gardens.
  • Museums4All. Family visits for $1 admission per adult member; children under 18 enter for free.
  • MusePass. Free family passes available in Fort Worth Public Library branches.
  • Sponsored field trips. Sponsored third grade field trips for local Title I schools. One free family pass would be included per student.
  • Blue Star Program. Free admission to families of active military members Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Community-based free family passes. Free family admission vouchers would be distributed to locations that specialize in meeting the needs of underserved populations. This program has been highly successful at the Fort Worth Zoo.

View a video and learn more about ongoing efforts to improve the garden.

Upcoming dates

Sept. 26, Park & Recreation Advisory Board reviews proposed fee structure.
Oct. 24, Park & Recreation Advisory Board votes on its recommendations to the City Council.
Oct. 30, City Council reviews the proposed fee structure.
Nov. 6, City Council votes on the fees.

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