MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Spring is here and that means baseball season. And that means the ball fields at Jimmy McDonough Memorial Park will be filled with players, fans and families as the new season gets under way.

Those entering the park may notice something different this year. The old signs leading into the facility are gone and have been replaced by a brand new one. You can thank Mahopac Boy Scout Richie Duffy for that. Making and installing the sign was part of his Eagle Scout project. He received his Eagle Scout designation during a Court of Honor ceremony Saturday, April 1, at American Legion Post 1080.

During his Scouting career, Duffy earned more than 39 merit badges and mentored some of the younger Scouts while holding several leadership positions before starting to plan his Eagle project in December 2015. That project was to remove the existing signs at the corner of Angela Drive and Long Pond Road, near the entrance to the Jimmy McDonough Memorial Fields (Crane Road) and replace them with a new Town of Carmel standard PVC oval sign, which was white with green letters and the town seal. The new sign is double-sided with directional arrows, guiding visitors to the ball field.

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The new sign will benefit traveling teams not familiar with the area to find the ballfields more easily and will also benefit residents who are new to the town or just starting out with their younger children playing sports.

The project was more than just an Eagle Scout project to Duffy; it was also a little more personal.  As a young boy, he played countless soccer games at this field with the Mahopac Sports Association (MSA) and eventually with the high school soccer team. He has also served as a referee at the fields for the MSA. 

As part of the Eagle Scout process, Duffy had to plan the project, which includes diagrams, project cost estimates, lists of supplies, materials, tools, permits, and plan for the safety of those assisting on the project worksite, and have it approved by the town and the county since it is on the corner of a Putnam County and Carmel town road. He then had to present the proposal, including all the logistics, in writing to his scoutmaster and the troop committee separately, and have them approved before a formal presentation to a Board at the Westchester-Putnam Council of the BSA.

Then came the process of planning a fundraiser to raise money for the project, which would cost about $2,200, including the cost of the sign and other supplies needed.  Duffy planned a potluck dinner at the American Legion on Bucks Hollow Road in which he went to most of the restaurants and delis in town and asked if they would be willing to donate a tray of food or another item to help fund his project. He was pleased with the overwhelmingly positive responses he got from most everyone that was asked.  His dinner was a success and raised almost $2,000. The rest of the funding was secured from donations from family, friends and other businesses in town.        

The physical work on the project started in May 2016 and was completed in mid-July of 2016 when the landscaping was completed around the sign. However, the work did not stop then because all the new landscaping plants had to be watered on a regular basis due to the unusually dry summer. Duffy, with the help of others, brought several gallons of water from home in buckets and 5-gallon jugs on a weekly basis to prevent the plants from dying. 

Altogether, the project included more than 185 man hours of labor, which was led by Duffy.

He had his final board of review in January when he was approved for promotion to the rank of Eagle Scout, which less than four percent of boys who join Scouting attain. 

Duffy recently joined the Mahopac Falls Fire Department and responds to many calls for help on the ambulance and looks forward to attending firefighter training school this summer so that he will be able to further help his community by fighting fires. He is also a member of the Putnam County Sheriffs Cadet Corps and a member of the Putnam County Youth Court. He works part time at a local shop. His plans are to graduate Mahopac High in June 2018 and attend a local college and eventually fulfill his dream and join the NYPD.