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A Pivotal Moment for Art Dye



Introduction

Nestled in American Fork lies the Art Dye Disc Golf Park, a vital component of Utah's thriving disc golf scene. Born from community effort and maintained through local funding and volunteer work, this course has become a hub for one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide. Despite its significant contribution to Utah County's annual economic activity, the disc golf course has not received proportional support from local government. This article advocates for a substantial investment in the course, leveraging a collaborative funding approach that combines resources from the American Fork PARC Fund, the Utah Outdoor Recreation Restoration Infrastructure Grants, and the ElevateUT Disc Golf Impact Expansion Grant. This synergy of funding sources aims to transform Art Dye Disc Golf Course into a premier destination for disc golf, enhancing both its community value and wider appeal.


Understanding Usage Through Data


The data acquired from uDisc, when scaled according to the formula provided by the Brigham Young University study, indicates that Art Dye Disc Golf Course was the setting for 78,190 recorded rounds in the year 2023. Given the average duration of 2 hours to complete an 18-hole round, this translates into a cumulative 156,380 hours of engagement at the park over the course of the year, while walking a total of 29,277 miles (That's a trip around the world!). These figures not only reflect the course's popularity but also underscores its role as a significant venue for outdoor recreation within the community, and a place where the community gathers and congregates.


Art Dye Disc Golf Course's National Reach


The Art Dye Disc Golf Course has garnered nationwide attention, as evidenced by 2023 usage data showing visitors from nearly every state, many of whom traveled over 500 miles to play. Remarkably, this impressive draw has been achieved without hosting premier A-tier level events. A-tier events in disc golf are significant tournaments recognized by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) for their high level of competition, organization, and player amenities. These events often attract top-tier players and a large audience, both in-person and online.


Currently, the course lacks several required amenities for such events, such as uniform tee pads. Recognizing the potential economic value of 'Heads in Beds', hosting Major Championships and A-tier tournaments at the course could significantly boost sports tourism revenue in Utah County. By investing in key improvements, the course can be elevated to a premier venue suitable for these high-profile events, thus enhancing its economic and recreational impact.



The Rise of Dragonfly and Its Impact on Local Disc Golf Economics


Lehi's Dragonfly Disc Golf Course, established in 2022, has recently experienced a surge in popularity. Initially succumbing to natural overgrowth in its first year, a community-driven cleanup initiative was instrumental in revitalizing the course. Following these efforts, Lehi's municipal investment into Dragonfly has yielded a tangible change of players recreating in Lehi as opposed to American Fork. The graph below illustrates a clear uptick in player participation at Dragonfly, surpassing Art Dye in terms of visits. This shift not only benefits local businesses, as players spend on fuel, dining, and shopping, but also represents a shift in the center of gravity for disc golf in the area. Art Dye's previous dominance in attracting disc golfers is being challenged as more players are now choosing to frequent Dragonfly, underscoring the importance of maintaining and investing in disc golf facilities to retain and grow economic impact.



The Future of Art Dye Disc Golf Course


Art Dye Disc Golf Course's Call for Upgrades

Art Dye Disc Golf Course requires a comprehensive suite of upgrades to maintain its relevance and enhance its appeal to players. Critical needs include a slight redesign with safety enhancements, stairs, additional tree plantings for environmental and aesthetic sustainability, and remediation of areas affected by erosion and soil compaction. Equally important are the installations of consistent tee pads and updated signage to meet competitive disc golf standards. These improvements are not just about keeping pace with the sport's growth but are vital for ensuring the course's future as a cherished community asset.


Funding through American Fork's PARC Program

The pathway to funding these enhancements is through the American Fork PARC Program, which stands for Parks, Arts, Recreation, and Culture. This initiative, backed by a slight increase in sales tax approved by residents, is designed to invest in the city's quality of life

through the development of recreational spaces, cultural arts facilities, and more. To date, the PARC Program has invested $9,482,289 into American Fork, with $1.7 million allocated in 2023 for improvements across the city. Notably, the program was instrumental in funding a new dog park, a development that, while beneficial, led to the removal of three holes from the course. Redirecting a portion of these funds to the disc golf course would not only help in restoring what was lost but also provide a significant opportunity to reposition the course as a competitive and recreational venue, primed to enhance sports tourism and contribute to the economic vitality of the region.


Application deadline is February 23rd.


Maximizing Resources with the ElevateUT Disc Golf Impact Grant


As American Fork seeks to enhance the course, an additional avenue for funding comes from the ElevateUT Disc Golf Impact Grant Program. This initiative offers up to $2,500 for projects that expand and improve disc golf facilities in the state. By securing an Expansion Grant, the city would not only gain financial backing but also demonstrate a robust endorsement from the local disc golf community. The capital for this grant is sourced directly from community-raised funds, underlining strong local support for the sport and its development. Leveraging such a grant reinforces the community's dedication to advancing disc golf and showcases a collective investment in outdoor recreational activities that can benefit all residents of American Fork.


Pulling it all together: Harnessing Utah's Outdoor Recreation Funding


In the quest to revitalize Art Dye Disc Golf Course, American Fork has the opportunity to leverage multiple funding sources, culminating in a strategic approach to state-level support. The Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant Office offers a pivotal resource through its Recreation Restoration Infrastructure (RRI) grant program. This initiative is designed to support projects that enhance outdoor recreation facilities and infrastructure across Utah. With a focus on restoration and development, the RRI program encourages local communities to invest in their recreational spaces, offering significant financial backing to eligible projects.


By pooling resources from the American Fork PARC Program and the ElevateUT Disc Golf Impact Grant, the city can set a strong foundation for funding. For example, if these combined efforts yield $140,000, which is a realistic target given the PARC Program’s history of funding substantial projects like the $480,000 investment in pickleball courts and a dog park, this sum can then be matched through the RRI grant. This 1:1 matching scheme effectively doubles the available funds, potentially raising the total to $280,000. Such a budget would enable the transformation of the disc golf course into a world-class disc golf facility, showcasing the power of collaborative funding between local, community, and state entities to enhance outdoor recreation and sports tourism.


Application deadline is March 15th.


Maximizing Funding Opportunities: State and Federal Grants


Following the exploration of local and state funding options for the Art Dye Disc Golf Course project, American Fork can further extend its reach to federal funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This federal program supports the development and maintenance of public outdoor recreation areas and aligns well with the objectives of the project, especially when considering the environmental aspects of the course upgrade.


The project's scope, which includes the strategic replanting of the forest area, not only revitalizes the course but also aligns with the conservation and natural resource enhancement focus of the LWCF. This environmental restoration effort strengthens the case for LWCF funding, highlighting a commitment to both recreational development and ecological stewardship. The potential funding from the LWCF, combined with the earlier discussed resources from the American Fork PARC Program and the ElevateUT Disc Golf Impact Grant, plus the matching funds opportunity from the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG), creates a robust financial framework.


Should American Fork successfully secure the LWCF grant, along with the matched funds from the UORG, the total financial pool could significantly exceed initial estimates. This multi-layered funding strategy not only reflects a collaborative effort across various levels of government but also ensures that the Art Dye Disc Golf Course project is comprehensively supported, paving the way for it to become a leading facility in the region.




Application deadline is April 1st.



Final Call to Action: The Time to Act is Now

As we conclude our exploration of the funding opportunities for the revitalization of Art Dye Disc Golf Course, it's crucial to recognize the urgency of this endeavor.


Key grant application deadlines are rapidly approaching; most importantly, the American Fork PARC fund applications are currently being accepted, with a deadline of February 23rd. Furthermore, the window for the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG) is open and closes on March 15th, while the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) deadline is set for April 1st.


This timeline underscores the immediacy required in mobilizing support and American Fork Parks submitting applications. The upcoming American Fork Parks Department meeting this upcoming Tuesday represents a pivotal opportunity for community involvement. It's the only meeting scheduled before the PARC fund application deadline, making it an essential platform for American Fork residents to voice their support for the project and ask the critical question: How will the Disc Golf Course be supported by American Fork in 2024 and beyond? Attendance at this meeting is more than just a show of support—it's an active step towards making the revitalization a reality.


For details on the meeting and how to participate, residents can visit the American Fork Parks, Trails, and Recreation Committee page at https://www.americanfork.gov/355/Parks-Trails-Recreation-Committee. The meeting is next Tuesday February 6th at 6:30 PM at the American Fork Library Conference Room, 64 South 100 East. Your presence and voice can make a significant difference in ensuring that Art Dye Disc Golf Course receives the attention and funding it deserves. Let's come together to support this project and see it through to fruition, enhancing our community's recreational landscape and preserving this treasured asset for future generations.

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