Newly-Established Fund Expected to Improve Botanic Garden’s Financial Issues

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden needs $15 million worth of improvements and a better plan for financial stability, per a recent study, and the city is taking its first steps to bring change – without having to charge a general admission fee. Not yet, anyway.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council approved the creation of a Botanic Garden Special Revenue Fund, which consists of money from the city’s General Fund and any garden revenue generated by the Fort Worth Botanical Society and Fort Worth Garden Club (two groups that manage the garden with the city). The vote was 8-1 with council member Sal Espino absent.

Consolidation of General Fund revenue and Special Purpose revenue should create $5.1 million for the garden, Park and Recreation Director Richard Zavala told the city council on March 21.

The vote comes after the city hired consulting firm EMD Consulting to help draft a strategic plan to improve the Botanic Garden. Among the needed improvements were facility renovations, a reorganized management structure and a plan for better financial stability. The city council approved the strategic plan in November, with policy changes to be approved later after further analysis.

One option discussed was charging a general admission fee. Currently general admission is free, with a charge for special features like the Japanese Garden.

The new funding structure does not include plans to begin charging a fee.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do,” council member Dennis Shingleton said at the meeting Tuesday. “Not only will this give the Botanic Garden some economy of scale and some ability to unify their money and strategize as to how they’re going to spend it, but it’s going to drive this Botanic Garden to next level. I’m convinced of it.”

The new funding structure will also allow the Botanic Garden to hire additional employees for electrical, customer service and custodial support needs.