Friday, June 28, 2019

Fort Worth Botanic Garden Mindless Myopic Mistake

Now, what we have right here is yet one more reason why I have come to hold in such low regard the Texas town of Fort Worth.I continue to be baffled by the shenanigans that take place in this town.

For a town with a population rapidly approaching a million, Fort Worth has relatively few city parks for a town its size.

And many of those few city parks have few modern amenities, such as restrooms, and running water. But, plenty of outhouses.

And only a couple public swimming pools. And those with a $6 adult admission fee.

Years ago I was appalled when Fort Worth began charging an entry fee to its largest city park, that being the Fort Worth Nature Center & Preserve. $5 for adults, $2 for kids 3-12.

If I remember right I previously mentioned a scene I witnessed at that Fort Worth park soon before the entry fee came to be. I was at that park's Prairie Dog Town. An old station wagon pulled into the parking lot. A mom and dad and six kids got out of the car. The kids were so excited to see the Prairie Dogs. I could tell this was not a family which made a yearly trek to Disneyland or some similar destination. After that entry fee was added it would have cost this family $22 to see those Prairie Dogs.

No big deal, you say.

City parks are supposed to be amenities a town's people collectively pay for, so everyone can enjoy the experience of a park, Mother Nature and all the good stuff like that.

Modern cities pay for their city parks with taxes, or bond issues, or other funding mechanisms than a fee to enter the park.

It would be one thing if Fort Worth had a plethora of pleasing parks. But it does not.

What about other town's parks with which I am familiar?

Well, the town I lived in before moving to Texas, Mount Vernon, in Washington, has several city parks, all modern with modern facilities. Including one park called Little Mountain Park. Relative to actual mountains this should probably be called Big Hill Park, but Mount Vernon's Little Mountain would definitely be the biggest mountain for hundreds of miles at my current Texas location. Or Fort Worth. Little Mountain Park has a twisty road which takes you to the summit. A hang glider launch pad. A lookout tower. Miles of trails. It is a big park. And it charges no entry fee.

Tacoma has multiple parks, all with modern facilities. One is Point Defiance Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in America. No entry fee charged, despite being BIG, having miles of paved roads, trails, beaches, various venues, even a fort. Something Fort Worth does not have That being. Fort Nisqually in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park.

Or how about South Mountain Park & Preserve in Phoenix. One of the largest urban parks in the world. Miles of hiking and biking trails. Miles of paved roads. Multiple picnic venues. Multiple structures. Multiple rangers. And no entry fee. Or Papago Park, shared by Phoenix and Tempe. Another big park with multiple attractions and no entry fee. Or also in the Phoenix zone, the town of Chandler, where I am heading in a couple weeks, with multiple parks, none of which charge an entry fee.

And in Chandler there is this park, Veteran's Oasis Park, which sort of ties into what prompted this blog post, that being appalled that Fort Worth is going to start charging an entry fee to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Chandler's Veteran's Oasis Park is sort of a small version of Fort Worth's Botanic Garden, only with a lake filled with crystal clear water, and fish. With multiple modern restrooms, including one in an interpretive center with live critters, like snakes.

And no entry fee.

To enter the Botanic Garden Fort Worth is going to charge $12 for adults, $6 for children 6-15, $10 if you're over 65. And various limited schemes with entry fee discounts. Or free times, like for an hour in the morning, or an hour late in the day.

This entry fee has come about after much lamenting about millions of bucks needed for improvements, and to fill a budget hole of over a $1 million.

Read The Fort Worth Botanic Garden will cost you in July. Here’s how to go for free article for all the disturbing details.

Among the many reasons this seems so odd to me, besides the fact that funding for something like a Botanic Garden should just be part of a city's budget, which is the way it works in towns in modern America, there are other elements which are disturbing.

For instance. Fort Worth's Botanic Gardens has had revenue generators as long as I have known of this location. A fee to enter the Japanese Gardens. A fee to enter the big glassed greenhouse, which apparently has been long closed due to needing repairs. I do not know if it is still there, but when I last visited there was a restaurant by the Japanese Gardens.

There is a big building at the entry, with multiple meeting rooms of various sizes. And a large theater. I have attended events at this location. A revenue generating fee is charged to book one of these rooms. Weddings take place here, receptions take place here. All sort of events take place in these venues. All of which generate funds, unlike what takes place in other town's park, which charge no entry fee.

And then there are events in the Botanic Gardens such as Concerts in the Gardens. Do those events not make money? I remember years ago paying $15 to attend Star Wars Night.

So, something is way off here. Why is this park suffering such a funding shortfall? How was that well done Botanic Garden boardwalk through the trees paid for in this cash strapped park?

As is the norm, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram The Fort Worth Botanic Garden will cost you in July. Here’s how to go for free article generated zero comments, at least when last I looked.

However, on Facebook, via the Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy, and another posting about this latest Fort Worth numbskullery there were dozens of comments which caused me to realize I was not alone in how I have reacted to this latest instance of the town of Fort Worth shooting itself in the foot. More on that foot shooting problem in a followup posting, but let's end this with a selection of comments from those aforementioned Facebook posts...

Kelly Cash: It makes me sad. It's not that much $ for one if not the wealthiest cities in the world, and the value of nature to mental health and well-being is just now being discovered. Botanical Gardens are different from plain parks. They ARE like libraries. They should be free. Especially in Fort Worth, a place that values art, nature and culture.

Ike Renfield: These exceptions are terribly limiting. All those little chopped up bits of time. A full three-day weekend just once a month (with rain dates) would be preferable to a few hours here, an hour there, albeit more frequently.

Wilson Armstrong: How much are we spending on the still-dry downtown pond front real estate development project? 17 million isn't that much for the city to cough up or put in a bond package.

Mariann Mitchell Taccia: We would not have to be returning "it to its former glory" and charging fees if it the Botanic Garden had not be miss managed in the first place and that fault falls on the city council.

Holly Behl: That’s a shame. Thinking back on all the visits I’ve made, I wouldn’t have made any of them if I had to shell out $30 to bring a friend in.

Michael Dallas: My family spent a lot of time in the parks and gardens of Fort Worth when we didn't have money to do anything else. Makes me sad that others won't get to enjoy the same.

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