It takes a whole team, at the helm is director Rhett Ogden
It’s safe to say if you live in Draper that you have visited one of our city’s many parks. With 39 parks in Draper and countless trails, it’s almost impossible not to take advantage of these numerous open spaces. There is a lot of work that goes into these parks and trails including the maintenance of the baseball diamonds at Draper Park and the soccer fields at Galena Hills Park. One undertaking that may be a surprise to some is the grooming of snow on several trails for fat-tire bikes last winter. The Christmas lights display at Draper Park has become newsworthy with the “Tree of Life” and draws visitors to our city from near and far. Behind all of the Draper parks and trails, as well as the Draper Amphitheater, is The Draper Parks and Recreation Department which consists of 21 full time employees, 20 seasonal employees and around 30 year-round part-time employees. At its head is the director, Rhett Ogden, who has a 16 year career in parks and recreation and became the director of Draper Parks and Recreation seven and a half years ago. When he took the job there was not even a Draper Parks and Recreation Department. Ogden has literally built this department from the ground up.
With the Draper Parks and Recreation Department’s development of the Corner Canyon mountain biking trails and the consequential formation of both the Corner Canyon High School and Draper Park Middle School’s Mountain Biking teams, Draper is on the map as a mountain biking destination. It has also received the designation of the largest high school mountain biking team in the country. This was only able to happen after a well planned out expansion of trails many of which have literally been cut into the mountain side. With safety of all trail users in mind, much thought has been put into the downhill bike-only trails as well as a hoof and foot trail for horses and hikers only. Behind all of the planning, construction, maintenance and continual safety awareness are Ogden and his team.
One of the biggest events that Draper Parks and Rec has a hand in is a huge event in July, Draper Days. The estimate is that 25,000 people attend Draper Days each night on Friday and Saturday nights. This event is so large that it requires it’s own Draper Days Committee that is the main organizer of the event, but Draper Parks and Rec runs several events including the Children’s Parade, movie at the amphitheater, three on three basketball and pickle ball tournaments and new this year is a Stryder bike race for kids. The biggest challenge is the park maintenance during this event. “Not only getting the park looking good to invite the whole state to come, but the trash management during this event keeps employees there sometimes until one or two a.m. and then back early the next day,” says Ogden.
Another huge task of Draper Parks and Rec is running the youth sports programs. Staffing referees is always a challenge for these programs. One issue they ran into this past season was scheduling court time for one of the biggest Junior Jazz basketball programs in it’s class with 1,500 kids playing right here in Draper. They have had to scramble to rent court time from local schools. One thing Ogden wants to point out is that “It’s not just about ball games and sports.” They’ve got ACT Test Prep classes, science based summer and arts camps and, in addition to youth sports, they have adult recreation groups. “Draper has about the biggest adult kickball league in the state,” says Ogden. There’s something for everyone.
The next big project for the Rec Department will be a new indoor aquatic center. They have applied for ZAP funds and it looks like Draper may be on the short list to get funding approved for this indoor aquatic center that would be built on the county owned land next to the existing Draper outdoor pool, which will remain as it is. Exciting things are on the horizon for Draper! Many thanks to Ogden and his team that help keep Draper active by maintaining and growing our options for recreation in this city we love!