OGDEN — An archery range taking shape in a west Ogden park will soon get a $1 million injection to make it more accessible and, by 2020, maybe another $2.23 million on top of that.
Plans for an adjacent gun range in Observatory Park, meanwhile — which have spurred heated debate in Ogden — have taken a backseat, at least for now, as the archery facilities move forward.
Weber County commissioners on Tuesday formally accepted $250,000 in funding from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development for the archery facility. That money, said Jennifer Graham, assistant director in the Weber County Culture, Parks and Recreation Department, leveraged another $750,000 in Utah Department of Natural Resources grant money, also to be put toward development of the archery park.
The outdoor, 16-station archery range at Observatory Park, built at the site of a former dump west of Fort Buenaventura Park and managed by Weber County, opened last July, marking a big milestone in its development. Now, the $1 million in new funds are to be used to upgrade the roadway off F Avenue on the west side of Observatory Park that leads to the archery range and the parking lot serving the facility, as soon as possible in 2019, Graham said.
“We’ve made it a great place for archers,” said Weber County Commissioner Jim Harvey.
After that, plans call for construction of an 11,280-square-foot structure that’s to house administrative offices, indoor archery lanes and educational space. “The education area will really be multi-use. It can be used for hunter’s safety classes, concealed-carry classes, community and club functions, etc.,” reads a Weber County report on the plans.
Plans call for collection of $2.23 million more in private and corporate donations for the new structure and other upgrades, on top of the $1 million in GOED and DNR funds. Graham said officials have been mulling ways to trim those figures, but whatever the final amount, the private fundraising drive, aided by Utah Sens. Allen Christensen and Gregg Buxton, should be done by the middle of 2020, if not sooner.
Graham envisions archery league and tournament activity at the Ogden park, meant to bolster the range of outdoor offerings in Weber County. “This would be quite unique. There’s not a lot of archery ranges around,” she said.
Jeff Spencer, vice chair of a Weber County committee that has helped investigate development of gun range and archery range facilities, lauded news of the funding. He said development of gun range plans at Observatory Park have lagged because it’s been easier to secure funds for the archery facilities. Even so, gun range plans, even if temporarily on hold, are still in the works.
“We have to take it a bite at a time,” he said. The gun range — focus of heated debate in 2013 amid concerns of some about noise, stray bullets and more — would sit south of the archery range on the southwestern portion of Observatory Park.
Observatory Park also features walking trails and a wetlands area traversed by a boardwalk. Given the rugged, hilly terrain it’s been used for cyclocross races.