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Eagle Scout project

Patrick Comiskey, TVHS Director Mari Irizarry, and the TVHS board try out the new picnic tables on April 12. Photo by Rob Pellegrino

Three Village Historical Society welcomes the community to take a load off and stay a while, thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Patrick Comiskey of Troop 70, a Setauket resident and senior at Ward Melville High School.

Just one month shy of his 18th birthday, Comiskey organized a team that built three cedar picnic tables adding to the original two tables at the property that hosts frequent events for the community including the weekly Three Village Farmers Market.

Comiskey, a regular visitor to the historical society, recalled TVHS’ Director Mari Irizarry mentioning to him the need to create a more inviting area for the community at the nearly 3 acre property. 

“I saw the conditions of the tables at historical society and thought that building new ones was something that I could accomplish,” he said.

Few Boy Scouts attain Scouting’s highest honor before they turn 18, but Comiskey was determined to get the job done. After raising more than $2,800 through donations, Comiskey completed the construction of the project over the course of two days with more time being spent in research and planning.

With support from family, Troop 70 and adult leaders, Comiskey assembled and installed the finished tables at TVHS on March 19.

The public is always invited to visit the Three Village Historical Society, located at 93 N. Country Road in Setauket, and next time you pass by, have a seat on the new picnic tables and tip your cap to Patrick Comiskey, another Three Village Eagle Scout in the making. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Connor Klug and his Eagle Scout project at the Three Villlage Historical Society surrounded by family and members of the TVHS. Photo by Rob Pellegrino/TVHS

The Three Village Historical Society (TVHS) has a new Little Free Library thanks to Eagle Scout candidate Connor Klug of Troop 1776, a Mount Sinai resident and senior at Mount Sinai High School.

SEEING DOUBLE: Connor Klug with his Little Free Library Eagle Scout Project, an exact replica of the Bayles-Swezey House in the background. Photo by Rob Pellegrino

Like all Scouts aiming to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America program, 17-year-old Klug needed to complete a service project. When it came time to choose one, he thought immediately of his love of history and knew that TVHS was extremely active within the community. 

Klug got the ball rolling on his project last fall, when he contacted TVHS director Mari Irizarry who suggested the community could use a Little Free Library like the ones at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook and along Main Street at Three Village Community Trust headquarters in Setauket.

“We welcome hundreds of guests to our property each month for events and exhibit tours. The response I’ve heard on social media about Connor’s library has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Irizarry. “The addition of the Little Free Library adds great value to our community, and a special touch to the Society.”

Connor Klug with the Little Free LIbrary on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society. Photo by Rob Pellegrino

Once Klug got the OK from TVHS, he began the six-month long process of designing the library to look exactly like the headquarters of the Three Village Historical Society, the Bayles-Swezey house (circa 1800), all the while being mindful of durability and weatherproofing. Klug then hit the streets asking for materials to be donated for the project with an approximate cost of $500 and had help to complete the project from family, friends, and Troop 1776. 

The process became a learning experience for Klug. “I learned that being a leader isn’t all about telling people what to do. You need to be confident, moral, and decisive, especially when things don’t go as planned,” he said.

The public is invited to drop off books about history-related topics to be included in the library — and is free to take ones too. 

The Three Village Historical Society is located at 93 N. Country Road in Setauket. For more information, visit www.tvhs.org.

Nicolas 'Niko' Maldonado-Molina (standing in center) proudly shows off one the benches he built. Photo from Town of Smithtown

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

Matthew Seyfert, right, approached his pastor Chuck Van Houten about his Eagle Scout project, constructing blessing boxes, for local churches. Van Houten reached out to other pastors to see if other houses of worship would be interested in receiving one. Photo from Dave Seyfert

By Rita J. Egan

Blessings have been popping up more and more at churches in the Three Village area thanks to a Stony Brook Eagle Scout.

Matthew Seyfert recently achieved the rank right before his 18th birthday. The Ward Melville senior completed a project where he and other Scouts assembled seven wood structures like the Little Free Libraries found all over Long Island. Called a blessing box, Seyfert said the cabinets will provide spots at seven local churches where congregants can add an item that may be needed by others. The member of Setauket Troop 70 said he completed his project just in time, since boys have until they turn 18 to reach the pinnacle of the program.

Blessing boxes during assembly. Each Scout had a different job during the project including painting and drilling. Photo from Dave Seyfert

“It felt really good, because even though I was a little pressed for time when I started my project, I tried to pick a project that I really didn’t do as a requirement just for completion,” he said. “[It’s] something that would have a larger impact on my community. It meant a lot to me.”

The Eagle Scout said he was watching the news when he heard about a blessing box in Texas, and thought it was a good idea to create a cabinet for his own place of worship, Stony Brook Community Church, among others. The Scout said church members typically fill the cabinet with items like school supplies at the beginning of the academic year, and socks and gloves or nonperishables in the winter.

When he approached the Rev. Chuck Van Houten, Seyfert said the pastor of Stony Brook Community Church was enthusiastic about the project, and reached out to other church leaders through the Three Village Interfaith Clergy group to see who else would be interested in one.

Van Houten said he was impressed with Seyfert’s endeavor, but added he wasn’t surprised, noting how involved the high school senior has been in the church, and the leadership qualities he possesses.

“I thought it was a great idea, especially since one of the main missions or ministries of our church right now is feeding people in the local school district,” the pastor said.

“I thought it was a great idea, especially since one of the main missions or ministries of our church right now is feeding people in the local school district.”

— Rev. Chuck Van Houten

Once a month church members purchase food for a local food pantry, according to Van Houten, who said the Stony Brook Community Church box will mainly be used to house nonperishables. He said the best part is that people can drop off or pick up items every day, all day, unlike a pantry where dates and times can be limited. In the next few weeks, the Seyferts will join Van Houten in finding a place in front of the church for the blessing box, and he hopes that all community members will use it in the future.

Seyfert said while a few church councils were concerned maintaining a blessing Box may be a big responsibility, he explained it would be on a stand and easy to move, adding it’s up to the congregation what they want to fill them with and how often.

The Scout’s father, Dave, said he was proud of his son for coming up with the idea, especially because financial situations can change dramatically with sickness or job loss, and said the need is greater than many would think in the Three Village area. The pair put together a prototype back in November before moving forward.

“I thought it was a well thought out project and well executed,” David Seyfert said.

The Rev. Gregory Leonard of Bethel AME Church in Setauket stands in front of the church’s blessing box. Photo from Dave Seyfert

Matthew Seyfert said future Eagle Scouts need to supervise the projects more than build them, so he got together some fellow Scouts and gave each boy a job based on age. While some did prep-work, others painted and others drilled. His father said local businesses Ace Hardware in Setauket, Riverhead Building Supply, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Omega Moulding Company donated supplies. Seyfert decided they would have roofs in colors that matched each church, after Setauket Presbyterian Church asked what color the boxes would be.

They’ve been placed at six locations so far, including Stony Brook Community Church, Setauket Presbyterian, Bethel AME Church, Caroline Church of Brookhaven, All Souls Episcopal Church and Setauket United Methodist Church. The Scout said he hopes to find a home for the seventh one in the near future. He said he has mixed feelings about the project being over.

“It was a relief, but it was also kind of sad because we were working on it for so long, that it was weird to not be focused on it,” Seyfert said. “But it felt really good to now finally implement them.”

The Eagle Scout project has left him with some advice for other boys looking to achieve the feat.

“Choose something you’re interested in so it’s not as much work,” Seyfert said. “Also, start early. It’s a lot of planning. You really can’t start without planning.”