Five Eagle Scouts from Troop 109 spent the weekend of June 9 replacing wood, screwing in nails and releveling the walkway at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Broad Channel. The walkway was previously rotting, which prevented handicapped people from enjoying the nature preserve.
“It’s in bad condition right now,” said Francisco Roca, the father of Eagle Scout Dylan Roca, said before the scouts repaired it.
Dylan, a junior at South High School, decided to resecure the walkway for his Eagle Scout project after his plan to clean up Arthur J. Hendrickson Park fell through. He said he liked the idea of fixing the walkway because he likes wildlife and wanted to give people the opportunity to experience wildlife who would have otherwise been prevented by the damaged walkway.
“Dylan’s project embodied the scouting spirit,” Scout Master Ron Healey said. “The refurbishment of the walkway for the physically challenged will now allow all members of the community to enjoy all the park has to offer.”
The project only took two days to complete, but it took months of planning. He began his research in April, and found that the preserve did not have all of the tools he would need to repair the walkway. He decided to hold a fundraiser at Sip This, a popular Valley Stream coffee shop, from May 18 to May 19, where he would sell his drawings to raise funds. He advertised the event with a poster featuring his drawings of a T-Rex, Spiderman and Scooby Doo.
“Sip This was really supportive in the fundraising efforts,” Dylan said, adding that a picture he drew of the Marvel character Thanos drinking coffee is now hanging up at the café.
The fundraiser netted $200, which was only $100 short of the amount he needed. Fortunately, in the following days, more people asked him for his original drawings.
“It was very successful,” he said.
By the time the project was completed on June 10, Dylan and his family noticed one man in a walker who was happy with the result. Mario Cernigliaro told Dylan that he used to exercise at the preserve, but when he went back a few days prior he was not able to walk around the preserve because of the damaged walkway.
Dylan said he felt good about “seeing the direct effect [my efforts] have on people.”