This letter is written in response to Donald Harris who complained in a letter to Flagpole about being locked-in at the State Botanical Garden one night recently. The Garden sincerely regrets that Mr. Harris was locked in and that it took an inordinate amount of time for help to arrive. While lock-ins do occasionally occur, response time is generally less than 15 minutes. Instructions posted at the exit provide the telephone numbers for the security agency and the UGA police; 911 should be called only in the event of an actual emergency.
For a number of years, the Garden has operated under these hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. October – March and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April – September excepting UGA holidays. These hours are posted at the entrance to the Garden, at the gatehouse by which all vehicles pass, at information locations in the main parking lots, in printed information available to visitors and on our web site.
It is standard practice for the security officer to drive through the Garden sounding the horn if vehicles remain in the parking lots, allowing a reasonable length of time for anyone remaining to return to their vehicles and exit. It is, however, impossible for the security officer to walk five miles of nature trails to hunt for possible visitors who may still be on the trails. Vehicles occasionally remain parked overnight, and so the presence of a vehicle does not indicate someone is still on the trails.
The Garden acknowledges the fact that the recent removal of pay phones at the Botanical Garden (and on the UGA campus) make it problematic for non cell phone carriers to call for assistance should it become necessary. The Garden will work with the University to install emergency call boxes at strategic locations such as those found on campus.
State Botanical Garden
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