An estimated 350,000 people visit the Fort Worth Botanic Garden every year, but it is facing a $1.2 million yearly shortfall.
Tuesday, city council members will vote on a measure that could raise revenue to help keep the gates open. If passed, there would be a new entrance fee of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for children ages 6 to 15 and free for children under 5.
"Doing nothing is not an option. The garden is not going to be here if we don't address the problem and the longer we wait, the more expensive and difficult it's going to be,” director Bob Byers said.
The fee is a part of a larger financial plan. Byers said a committee spent a great deal of time working on ways to make sure that even with a new fee, the gardens would remain accessible to everyone.
Accessibility plans include:
• Free passes in Fort Worth libraries for all those with an active library card. It would be good for a family to visit for a week.
• Community-based passes through non-profit organizations if that organization promises to offer transportation to the gardens.
• Those with food assistance cards get a $1 entrance and free entrance for children.
• Free entrance for military families from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“This is a part of the cultural fabric of Fort Worth. Almost everybody who lives here has been here at some time. We don’t want to lose that,” Byers said. “I’m not proposing anything that would prevent people from coming to the garden because that exactly what we want people to do – is come out here.”
If council passes the measure tonight, you won’t likely see the fee enacted until July.