Local Boy Scout beautifies park

Hopewell Borough is even more welcoming thanks to local Boy Scout Marcus Carsky-Wilson who dedicated his Eagle Scout project to enhancing the curb appeal of the West Prospect entrance of Hopewell Borough Park. The project involved two major components: tree and flower planting and bench construction and installation.

Carsky-Wilson, a rising senior at Hopewell Valley Central High School, has been a member of Hopewell’s Scouts BSA Troop 71 for the last six years, and has risen in ranks to the position of senior patrol leader (or “scout leader”) after having served as quartermaster, managing the equipment and supplies, for several years prior. He also is a member of Scouting’s Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow.

“Now that I’m a Life Scout, the last step in my scouting career is to become an Eagle Scout. A significant part of obtaining the Eagle rank is planning and completing a service project, and my Eagle project is meant to beautify the West Prospect entrance to Hopewell Borough Park,” shared Carsky-Wilson.

More than 200 daffodils were planted under tree canopies and along the fences “to brighten up the area,” shared Carsky-Wilson. Additionally, he planted a variety of native perennials including wild bergamot and mountain mint. Two small bayberry bushes have been planted on either end of the benches.

“As they grow larger, they will grow up and out to provide shade for the benches.

All the plants were chosen for their ability to survive the harsh sunbaked climate of that area of the field and are deer-resistant,” said Carsky-Wilson.

The second part of the project was to construct, assemble, and install the two benches that blend into the natural landscape. They are made of black locust wood, meant to weather the harsh climate, donated to him by Ivy Hill Tree Service. Wood was Carsky-Wilson’s preferred material rather than metal so that the seating matches the landscape. One bench back was hand-painted by Carsky-Wilson’s older sister, Luccia Carsky-Wilson, to illustrate eight natural scenes.

The benches are set three feet underground “because the logs are so long, they had to be far underground for the seats to be at a comfortable height,” explained Carsky-Wilson, who shared that the hard clay and rock should help support the benches so they last for years to come. For the same reason, the backboard is held on by two durable stainless steel brackets that will resist rusting and can withstand hundreds of pounds of weight each. The other bench has no back, which was purposeful “to allow people to lie down on it, or use it for stretching, or anything else they might need,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do the benches without the help of my Boy Scout Troop, because it took nineteen scouts and adults using shovels and pry bars for two plus hours just to dig the four holes for the bases of the two benches. And we ran into almost solid rock two feet down,” said Carsky-Wilson.

When asked about the planning process, Carsky-Wilson shared: “There is a lot that has to be done before starting the work on an Eagle Project, and mine was no different. I had to plan and outline the project as a whole, obtain permission from the relevant agencies and organizations (Mercer County and Hopewell Boro), determine how I was going to raise funds, and break up the project into more manageable work sessions.

“In addition, I had to get my plan approved by my Troop and the local Scouts BSA Council, make recommended changes, and then provide further detail. For example, I had to figure out and plan for any possible hazards scouts could encounter during work sessions, I had to obtain any and all necessary tools, materials, and supplies, as well as raise funds to pay for anything not donated. All of this was made even more complicated by COVID, because I had to meet CDC, local and our chartering organization’s (Hopewell Presbyterian Church) safety guidelines. Scouts couldn’t be too close together, or share the same tools, and had to wear masks most of the time.”

Carsky-Wilson humbly thanked those involved, “I can’t stress enough that this was not my project alone. I have received many material and monetary donations from companies including Ivy Hill Tree Service, Home Depot, and Kale’s Nursery. My sister painted the bench for free, and several of our neighbors have donated money to help support the project. And last but not least, my Troop helped hugely, contributing their time across six separate two-hour work sessions. In total, they spent over 120 hours so far working on my project in various ways, all volunteer work supporting the community.”

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