Botanic Garden Outlines Plan for Future Changes

Changes are coming to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, and the garden and City of Fort Worth now have an outline of options for what’s to come.

After months of discussion and public meetings, the Fort Worth City Council voted Tuesday to approve the Fort Worth Botanic Garden Strategic Plan, a document that addresses the garden’s needs and offers options on how to fix them. EMD Consulting, a consulting firm out of St. Louis, helped put the plan together.

The plan discusses ways to improve the garden, such as streamlining the garden’s organizational structure, improving the garden’s financial stability, and renovating and maintaining the garden’s facilities.

One issue is the garden’s need for about $15 million worth of renovations, from improving walkways and signage to renovating the Rock Springs building where the Gardens Restaurant is located.

“The garden has wonderful facilities provided by the contributions of generations of residents,” garden director Bob Byers wrote in an email to Fort Worth, Texas magazine. “That should be celebrated. However, the role of public gardens has expanded tremendously over the last 30 years into public outreach, education, conservation, healthy living, regionally focused collections, and many other important issues. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden hasn’t kept pace.”

To make that goal, as well as improve financial stability, the plan proposes reorganizing the garden’s management structure. The garden is currently managed by three groups – the Fort Worth Botanical Society, the Fort Worth Garden Club and the City of Fort Worth – and each group operates with a separate budget. The plan recommends consolidating the Fort Worth Botanical Society and Fort Worth Garden Club into one group known as the “Friends” organization.

Other options for improving financial stability include charging a general admission fee (admission to the garden is currently free, but certain features like the Japanese Garden charge a fee), charging for parking and increasing support from the City of Fort Worth.

The plan also discusses other fundraising strategies, ways to enhance educational programs and how the garden compares with other gardens around the nation.

Though the city council accepted plan, no policy changes will be made yet. The city will analyze the options outlined in the plan before making decisions on what will be done, and any action must be approved by both the Park Board and city council.

“It’s a big challenge, but our obligation is not only to protect the garden as it is, but to take an objective, long term view and make the hard decisions that assure we leave it a better place for those who follow us,” Byers wrote. “The strategic plan is an important first step.”

Read the full strategic plan here.