On Nov. 4, local and state officials joined with family, friends, and the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce to unveil the Eagle Scout Project of Boy Scout Nicolas “Niko” Maldonado-Molina of Troop 566.
Niko chose to build two benches, one standard and one which is ADA accessible, for residents to utilize at the newly renovated playground at Gibbs Pond Park. The project, created by hand, was designed to create inclusivity and hopefully inspire similar projects.
“Niko not only sought to build new benches for the playground area, he had the thoughtfulness of mind to create ADA accessible benches. This is a great new addition to Gibbs Pond Park and we are thrilled to be here today to unveil them as Nicholas Maldonado-Molina’s Eagle Scout Project for Troop 566,” said Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.
The ADA compliant, handicap accessible bench has a 34 inch gap in the center, allowing for a wheelchair user to easily maneuver it into the gap and sit next to others, instead of having to place it beside the bench.
“Only 4% of Scouts in the Scouting program achieve the Eagle rank before their 18th year, which is the deadline. Reaching Eagle rank requires dedication, perseverance, and a very, very good work ethic. With the help of many people, I was able to complete this project. With over 50+ hours of collecting and recycling 10,000 bottles, we raised $500 so that we could build these cedar benches that belong to this park now,” said Niko. “I thought it would be unique to do this as a way to give back to my community, and include a portion of people who might be overlooked. ”
The benches at Gibbs Pond Park are one of several recent improvements made to the park. Other renovations include new landscaping, state-of-the-art LED sports lighting, turf resurfacing, reconditioning of the tennis and basketball courts, and new playground areas.
Photo from Town of Smithtown