Weber County park taking shape at former dump site, archery range nearly done

Wednesday , July 18, 2018 - 5:15 AM

OGDEN — The creation of Observatory Park in West Ogden, Troy Burgess maintains, amounts to something of a metamorphosis.

“We’re taking something that was neglected and making something that the community can enjoy,” said Burgess, president of the Wasatch Wigeons Association, a nonprofit environmental conservation group aiding in the park’s development.

Todd Ferrario, the Weber County Parks and Recreation director, echoes that, underscoring the aim to create a natural refuge in the midst of urban Ogden at the site of a former landfill. Small airplanes fly overhead, coming and going from nearby Ogden-Hinckley Airport. The park, featuring 2.4 miles of trails, sits between Cargill Animal Nutrition — a large industrial operation — to the west and Fort Buenaventura Park to the east.

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“We’re reclaiming use of a piece of property that obviously used to be a dump,” Ferrario said. “We’re just looking at a piece of property that has limited uses.”

RELATED: West Ogden's Observatory Park promises to make once-forgotten spot memorable

For the last year, county officials, Wasatch Wigeons Association volunteers and others have been helping with the conversion of the 76-acre parcel, fenced-off from the public for around 20 years after the dump reached capacity. Ferrario estimates the work is 75 percent done and two new features will soon be completed, including an archery range on the park’s west side, set to open on July 28. A two-story observation deck, meant to help visitors sneak a peek of birds and other wildlife in the Kingfisher Wetlands in the park’s southeastern corner, should be done by the end of July.

Not bad for a plot of land characterized by a large mound containing years’ worth of trash from area homes, now capped and covered with yellowing grass. 

Still, though a bowery near the main entrance is complete and picnic tables and a grassy play area are coming, it’s too early to say if traffic will be enough to merit a playground or other upgrades. Visitors come mainly from the West Ogden neighborhood where the park sits, south of 24th Street, off A Avenue. The trash mound is also the site of periodic cyclocross races.

“What we’re trying to do is judge what kind of usage we’ll have,” Ferrario said.

DUCKS, GEESE, DEER, FOXES

Weber County earmarked $95,000 to develop the park, but thanks to grant funding and volunteers like the Wasatch Wigeons crews, less than $60,000 of that has been spent, according to Ferrario.

Volunteers also helped develop the archery range, which will be accessible from a planned entry point off F Avenue, near Cargill. It sits in a low spot in the park and will feature 3D targets.

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Burgess said the observation deck in Kingfisher Wetlands — one of the most distinctive aspects of the park — will allow the public to catch glimpses of mallard ducks, geese, deer, foxes and other critters that frequent the zone. At the same time, efforts are afoot to get rid of some of the invasive species growing in the area.

RELATED: Archery course takes shape at Weber County's planned $4.5M outdoor gun range

“We’re trying to make this into a waterfowl nursery,” Burgess said. Boardwalks over marshy areas allow visitors to experience the area and stay dry.

There has also been talk of adding a gun range adjacent to the park’s southwest corner, but Ferrario said no county funds have been earmarked for the proposal.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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