North Ogden Barker Park Amphitheater upgrades more expensive than anticipated

Thursday , October 12, 2017 - 1:05 PM

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

NORTH OGDEN — The proposed upgrade of the Barker Park Amphitheater is going to cost more than previously expected, according to updated cost estimates for the project — around $4.3 million instead of $3.6 million.

Even so, Mayor Brent Taylor hopes enough donations come in to minimize the funding the city has to allocate for the project, which is meant to bolster the sort of events the facility can accommodate. Moreover, federal grant funding the city’s in line to get for another project may free up money and help offset the city’s contribution.

He brought up the topic at Tuesday’s North Ogden City Council meeting, and he’s hoping to reach a consensus on how to deal with the funding issue at next week’s meeting so work can commence by November.

The amphitheater was built in the early 2000s, but the stage and other facilities are too small for certain events. Officials want to improve upon them, allowing for a broader array of activities and enhancing its drawing power. Plans also call for the addition of 300 to 500 fixed seats in the area immediately in front of the stage, though the grassy seating area behind that will remain.

“We see it as kind of like the Kenley Amphitheater in Layton for Weber County,” Taylor said, alluding to a similar Davis County facility that draws national acts each summer. With the mountain view at the Barker Park site, “the location is unparalleled.”

A planned parking lot east of the amphitheater is one of the biggest reasons for the price hike from $3.6 million to $4.3 million, according to a report prepared by a committee overseeing the plans. But the facility will also need a stronger underground support system of piers, and project proponents want to build a paved plaza around the crown of the amphitheater, which could potentially accommodate things like a Christmas village, Taylor said.

Rises in construction costs also factor in, along with new plans to separate the planned restrooms from the planned structure housing the ticket booth and concessions stand.

Scaling the plans back to keep within the original estimated budget would be another option, according to the report from the amphitheater design committee. But committee members “strongly believe that we should instead divide the project into two phases and do the project ‘right’ over time instead of cutting back needed features.”

The committee proposal calls for completion of upgrades to the stage area and installation of new seating first, between now and 2018, and completion of the second phase, including the plaza and parking area, in a second phase in 2019.

Taylor hopes donations and grants cover more than half of the estimated $4.3 million price tag. The city council earmarked $1.1 million for amphitheater work in 2017, a sum that includes $330,000 in recreation, arms, museum and parks, grant funds.

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