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Future Eagle Scout to revamp Park Avenue 9/11 memorial

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Fifteen-year-old Nicholas Carrano is heading back to elementary school. This time, however, Carrano will return to Park Avenue Elementary School as a Boy Scout, ready to break ground on his long-planned Eagle Scout project.

Carrano has had his eye on revamping the 9/11 memorial garden on the school’s front lawn since he was a student at Park Avenue, in the North Bellmore School District. The rectangular, wooden-framed garden is often “bare,” Carrano said. Plants rarely bloom for long because of the poor irrigation.

A plaque on the frame, which was created for a rededication in 2007, is the only sign stating the garden’s purpose, he added. The small dedication is “the only way people know what the garden is for.”

During a meeting with Park Avenue Principal Eileen Speidel, when the two brainstormed project ideas for Park Avenue, Carrano pitched the concept and received her approval. “He has the chance to make the garden what it’s really meant to be,” Speidel told the Herald.

“It’s an important project to me,” said Carrano, of Merrick. He has long had the desire to give back to the community, he added, but the memorial will have a special message: “To remind everyone of the people that gave up or risked their lives to help others,” he said. “This is to remember and memorialize them.”

At the July 1 Board of Education meeting, Carrano gave his pitch in his Boy Scout Troop 123 uniform. His detailed plan earned unanimous approval.

When the project is completed, the most familiar aspect will be the garden’s tree in the center of the memorial, which has its own historical significance. It was dedicated to a Park Avenue teacher years before Carrano was a student, he said. Aside from the centerpiece, the memorial will be completely transformed. “He thought of every inch,” Speidel said.

Replacing the wooden frame will be a 10-foot diameter, two-foot-tall stone ring — a convenient spot for parents to sit and wait for their children, Carrano said. A new sprinkler system, connected to the school’s water system, will also be installed to help flowers bloom all season. And a peace pole — a colorful wooden pole with the word “peace” written in various languages — will act as the memorial’s beacon. The pole, which is still being conceptualized, will “signify bringing people together,” Carrano said.

To make sure the project is done right — and that the memorial and garden have longevity — Carrano consulted professionals. He used his connections in the community and the Boy Scouts to get feedback on stone construction, tree planting and sign creation.

The Bellmore Lions are also lending support for the project with a $1,000 donation. The Lions, a charitable organization, “wholeheartedly supports these types of projects, especially when they’re done in the community,” Treasurer Nina Lanci said.

Carrano will become the third Eagle Scout in his family. He is also Troop 123’s senior patrol leader, where he is responsible for planning meetings and directing fellow scouts.

He will begin work on the project in late August, but will continue to host fundraisers and accept donations until it’s completed. “It feels good to do something for the school — I was taught so many lessons there,” Carrano said. “They did so much for me and other students.”