Giving Back

Eagle Scout Projects to Add More Park Upgrades

Rec and Parks Director Jim Gilchrist, left, helps Will Lacey present his Eagle Scout project to the Town Board. Credits: Bob Dumas
Robert Sokerka discusses his Eagle Scout project. Credits: Bob Dumas

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— More improvements are coming to some of the community’s parks this summer at zero cost to the taxpayers, thanks to two Eagle Scout projects that are about to be undertaken by some intrepid Boy Scouts.

The projects were presented to the Town Board at a meeting last month where Recreation and Parks Director Jim Gilchrist said the Rec and Parks Advisory Committee has given its approval.

Scout Will Lacey will undertake the task of renovating the gazebo at the Chamber Park, and Scout Robert Sokerka will build a fence near the scoreboard in McDonough Park to help direct pedestrian traffic away from the ballfield and add a safety element.

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The Town Board approved the projects at its May 18 meeting.

 “I would like to do this project because I feel it is a chance for me to repair something that is important to the community and give me a chance to show my leadership abilities,” Lacey said in his proposition to renovate the gazebo.

Lacey lives in White Plains, but his aunt and uncle live in Mahopac. His uncle, John Aquina, owns Blue Horizons Construction Corp., and will help him with the project.

“The park [where the gazebo is located] is next to the bank where my aunt works,” Lacey said. “Since I was a child I’ve spent many weekends with my aunt and uncle in Mahopac and it has become like a second home to me. My Uncle John has agreed to be my project coach.”

Lacey said he hopes to work through the bank his aunt works for to help fundraise for the project and will see if Home Depot will be willing to provide on loan the tools that may be needed.

Lacey noted that vandals have damaged some of the fencing around the gazebo and the weather has also helped to deteriorate it. He said there are hundreds of little holes from where people have posted flyers and they need to be filled before the structure can be washed and painted. Roof shingles need to be replace, and landscaping around the gazebo needs upgrading as well.

“I feel this is a good project to do with the troop because all the Scout volunteers who help me can do power washing, painting and landscaping,” Lacey said. “Older Scouts can be taught to hammer the fence posts with nails. My uncle would have to climb on the roof to replace the shingles, but there will be no power tools needed.”

Sokerka’s fence project would install fencing near the scoreboard for the 90-foot baseball field at McDonough Park. The fence will prevent spectator entryway onto the ballfield; block the scoreboard to prevent player injury; and increase safety for those attending the games.

“We also want to create a nice lawn area where people can hang out and watch the games,” Sokerka told the board during his presentation. “We want to do some landscaping as well.”

Sokerka said he has enlisted the help of Salem Fence Company for the project. He said he hopes to be able add bleachers and perhaps picnic tables to the area as well.

Sokerka said he will hold multiple bake sales for raise funds for the project and will receive private donations from area businesses.

Gilchrist said both Scouts are anxious to get their projects started.

“I know they are champing at the bit to get going,” he said. “We are hoping that both projects can be done by the end of June.”

Supervisor Ken Schmitt said he is always happy when Scouts propose Eagle Scout projects that aid the town in some way.

“Our taxpayers have had the benefit of many of these projects over the years,” he said. “You can go around to our parks—there are so many to see. It’s great. You (the Scouts) get your Eagle Scout award, but we are the beneficiaries too.”

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