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Dinosaur Park official offers details on expansion plans at Ogden venue

By Rob Nielsen - | Feb 16, 2024

Ben Dorger, Standard-Examiner file photo

A statue of a Utahraptor is seen Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park.

OGDEN — The George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park is set to grow as part of its ongoing mission to educate the public about our prehistoric past.

On Feb. 9, the City of Ogden released a statement on the park’s expansion plans.

“We are very proud of our ongoing accomplishments since the inception of the park 30+ years ago, but we have no intention of slowing down,” the release said. “Plans and preparation by the staff, board, and donors will include projects that rival anything ever constructed at the park.”

On Wednesday, Shane Lyon — chairman of the Dinosaur Park board — detailed some of these planned additions to the park.

“Our biggest goal is to always be bringing in new attractions, new educational opportunities and new avenues for the community to come and take part and enjoy — not just walking around the grounds and seeing everything, but learning (too),” he said. “Some of the main programs and projects we’re working on is, for one, the ‘hatchery.’ And we call it a hatchery because it’s going to be a new facility that we are utilizing to ‘hatch’ out new dinosaurs — new ideas for dinosaurs, new sculptures, new projects and being able to maintain the current sculptures that we have. Our Utah weather, obviously, does a number on the paint and the dinosaurs as a whole.”

He added that the hatchery will utilize local artists.

Lyon said the park also will be replacing its playground with all-abilities equipment.

“Our playground is quite old and dated,” he said. “Though it’s served its purpose for the community for years and years, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. We as a board felt that it was of the utmost importance to make sure that we included all members of the community. We wanted to make sure it was all-abilities so anyone with disabilities can come to this and make sure that everyone gets a chance to play on the playground and get all they can out of it.”

He said that the Mark Wayment Amphitheater also will be completed at this time.

“The foundation and the structure is there,” he said. “That’s going to be an area where we can have movies in the park and you name it — about anything we can do to continue to grow the park and provide new venues and new avenues for the community to come and enjoy.”

Lyon said the hatchery has been in the plans since 2013.

“We’ve been working on planning out the hatchery and growing and expanding the park,” he said. “Right before COVID, we were actually going to get started on the plans for that. Of course, COVID hit and put a stop to everything. Over the last three or four years, we’ve been working to get that project up and running again.”

He said the goal is to have the hatchery built this year and finish the playground this year as well.

“Because we’re always looking for educational growth and community growth for the park, the hatchery will provide just that,” he said. “It’s not only to maintain our current sculptures, it’s also to bring new dinosaur sculptures in and new projects in for the park.”

The expansion plans haven’t come without controversy though. On part of the city-owned land sits what had for nearly a decade been the headquarters of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. A year ago, the center received an eviction notice from the city citing the expansion of the Dinosaur Park as the reason for the eviction. This led to protests of the park and a campaign to find a new location for the wildlife center. Currently the WRCNU is fixing a property on Washington Boulevard to use as a temporary facility while it raises funds for a permanent site.

However, Lyon said there were no adverse impacts on the park itself.

“Attendance and support from our amazing community and city has continued to grow,” he said. “The future of the Dinosaur Park and the exceptional educational benefits provided to the community is more exciting than ever. We will continue to provide a safe, family friendly venue for all to enjoy and truly appreciate everyone involved in making the Ogden’s George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park a beloved destination for all.”

And he added that the park — currently around 8.5 acres — could expand up to 12 total acres in the coming years.

“I don’t know if this is going to be a five-year plan or a 10-year plan, but we do have land across the river that we are able to develop for the community,” he said. “Our additional goals are to continue to beautify the park, to continue to bring in new attractions for people and just grow from there.”

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