Scouting project creates new park in Macon

Park, trail to open in Sunday ceremony

jgaines@macon.comApril 11, 2014 

Alex_Sayler

Alex Sayler's Eagle Scout project was completing a nature trail next to Riverside United Methodist Church which sponsors his troop. The park is being dedicated Sunday.

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    A dedication ceremony for the park and trail will be shortly after 11:30 a.m. Sunday, next to the parking lot at Riverside United Methodist Church, 735 Pierce Ave., Macon.

A new park and trail are set to be dedicated Sunday next to Riverside United Methodist Church, thanks to work on Eagle Scout projects from Troop 8 of the Boy Scouts of America.

Alex Sayler, 15, a freshman at Central High School, is the latest of three Scouts to put many hours of work into the project.

“A few other Scouts from our troop have already done work on that trail before, so the church came to me and asked me if I’d like to finish the trail for them, and I said I‘d love to do that,” he said.

Along with family, friends and church members, Sayler labored from December to March. He has been involved in Scouting since he was 8.

“It turned out really good,” he said. “It’s a lot more than we planned to do originally.”

Once more work is done, such as making the area accessible to the disabled, the park will become a gift to the community, church member Faye Crews said.

“The park is going to be called Riverside Park,” she said.

The site will be formally dedicated in a short public ceremony just after the Palm Sunday service, which ends at 11:30 a.m., Crews said.

A review board approved Alex’s Eagle Scout rank on Tuesday, said Jim Sayler, Alex’s father.

Troop 8 has been sponsored by Riverside United Methodist Church for years, Alex Sayler said.

“It was an honor for me to kind of give back to them,” he said.

The park site -- which is next door to Northwoods Academy -- is at the lower end of the church parking lot, 735 Pierce Ave., Crews said.

Two other Scouts used initial work on the trail as their own Eagle Scout projects, Jim Sayler said. Paul Walton started working on the trail in fall 2012, and with his family put in 87 hours creating a 300-foot circular path through the woods. But he moved to Alaska soon afterward, and church members put in a little more work on clearing brush, Jim Sayler said.

In July 2013, Jonathan Ross cleared more undergrowth from a 20-by-30-foot area and put up a handrail and landscaping timbers, and also did some planting for a total of 38 hours work, according to an email from Jim Sayler

In this round of work, Alex put in 184 hours, while other Scouts, a friend and many adults -- a total of 29 people -- helped out, Jim Sayler said. Altogether the project took 662 hours and donations of $1,924 in materials and money, he said.

Alex added about 200 feet to the trail’s lower end, then cleared and leveled the entire 540-foot length, Jim Sayler said. That required carrying in 9 tons of rock to fill a muddy expanse next to a stream.

Moving the rock was the hardest part, Alex Sayler said.

Then he put in six drains to stop erosion and spread three tons of mulch on the trail. Shawn Montgomery of Montgomery Tree Service donated the mulch and cut pine logs for three benches, Jim Sayler said. But Alex and his father finished the logs, which were set in concrete bases with the Boy Scout emblem on the side.

Alex planted 15 trees and put identifying plaques on 14 more, built four birdhouses and installed two bat houses donated by fellow Scout Matthew Milliken, Jim Sayler said.

The trail doesn’t lead anywhere in particular now, but church members have talked about putting a small amphitheater or gazebo at the end, Alex Sayler said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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