City considers private partnership for Zilker Botanical Garden
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Officials with the City of Austin say the city can no longer keep the Zilker Botanical Garden running on their own. They plan to put out a call for contractors next week in hope of finding a private partner which would help keep the flowers in bloom.
Donna Friedenreich hosts a gardening segment here on YNN, but is also president of the Austin Area Garden Council. The nonprofit’s 1,500 members have sewn their time and labor into the public garden’s soils
"My worst nightmare is that the city decides they can't sustain it," Friedereich said. “The DNA is all over the garden – our DNA.”
In her eyes, the current crunch stems from a $500,000 slash to the garden’s budget from the city. A two dollar admission fee implemented last October isn’t making up the difference.
Now, the city's looking for an outside group to step in and help. It would manage and maintain the garden, and split revenues with the city.
Friedenreich's optimistic there's a contractor willing to work with the Garden Council.
"In an ideal world, it would be great if they could find a contractor that has a true vision of how to take care of a botanical garden and says, 'Wow! You have this wonderful organization that has so much history here,’” she said. “We really would like to partner with them.'"
Laura Esparza with the Parks and Recreation Department said the city is still weighing its options. City leaders say they're looking to San Antonio's botanical garden as a model.
They say that garden's success is due to a long-standing public-private partnership.