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BRIT to begin managing Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Posted May 19, 2020

Botanic Garden entrance fountain
Measures are in place to make sure the Fort Worth Botanic Garden remains open to all.

The City Council voted on Tuesday to turn over management of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) for a 20-year term.

The Council also amended the existing GROW Program agreement with BRIT to cover certain administrative activities.

The benefits of the management agreement include: opportunity for significant growth, funding from broader sources, enhanced educational programs, professional fundraising and membership staff, cultivated donor base, and management of private funds.

“We’re really excited about the tremendous potential for growth we can realize by working even more closely with BRIT,” said Botanic Garden Director Bob Byers. “When we combine our respective areas of expertise under a joint management agreement, it creates synergies that eliminate duplication for more efficient operations and brings much greater return on resources invested by the community. Bringing together BRIT’s fundraising, education and world-class research capabilities with the Garden’s historically-significant grounds, event facilities and horticultural expertise will create one of the leading public gardens in America.”

Ed Schneider, president of BRIT, said: “We are excited by the potential of working together with the staff, patrons and supporters of the Botanic Garden to make it an even greater resource and attraction for our city and the North Texas region.”

Goals of the approved agreement include:

  • Increase in Botanic Garden attendance.
  • At least 10% of attendance at the Botanic Garden is with free or reduced-price admission, not counting attendance through membership programs.
  • Increase in non-city funding.
  • Increase in participation in education, events and volunteer programs at the Botanic Garden.

The BRIT agreement is similar to a longstanding agreement between the city-owned zoo property and Fort Worth Zoological Association Inc.

Terms of the Botanic-Garden-BRIT agreement:

  • City retains ownership of public land, permanent structures, infrastructure and public art.
  • City transfers city vehicles and equipment to BRIT.
  • City pays annual management fee of $3.35 million, with inflation increases depending on a reduced percentage of operational funds over time.
  • City pays for utility relocation associated with planned improvements.
  • City maintains proposed commitment of $17 million-plus in debt funds over 12 years for deferred facility maintenance and an enhanced visitor experience. This includes a capital investment of $4.3 million in 2020 and the remaining $13 million split between 2022 and 2026 bond programs.
  • BRIT may adjust admission and membership fees over time in line with inflation, ensuring at least 10% of nonmember admissions are free or reduced rate.
  • BRIT may charge for parking for special events or in the future when parking is inadequate for Garden visitors and other arrangements must be funded; any expansion of parking on Garden property requires approval of the City Council.

The agreement is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2020, but could be delayed if COVID-19 disaster declarations continue into the autumn months.

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