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Staff proposes entry fees to make the Botanic Garden a more satisfying place to visit in the future

City staff has proposed entry fees 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 still must receive recommendations from the Botanic Garden Task Force and the Park & Recreation Advisory Board. Then residents will have several opportunities to speak out 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.

City staff recommended charging $10 for adult admission, $5 for children 6-12 and $8 for senior citizens. Annual memberships would also be offered for families and individuals.

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

A single general admission would distribute fees more fairly across all users and provide a base for an annual membership program and a fundraising program. Similar admission fees at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and other 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 a great burden on Fort Worth taxpayers.

The task force is looking at numerous options to make the gardens accessible to low-income residents.

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