Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

MJ Eagle Scout park open for action

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Scout's 'go big or go home project' completed

Aimee was a whiz on her scooter Saturday afternoon and little brother Wilson kept up with her as best he could on his trike. Wilson, 3, even showed off and went backwards.

This healthy fun was had at Mt. Juliet's brand new Eagle Park off West Division. The sibs were part of a huge crowd who descended on the European-style bicycle playground that is a vision-come-true for Mt. Juliet High School senior and soon-to-be Troop 150 Eagle Scout John Forth. The city cut the ribbon to open the park this past weekend.

"It's been about a year-long project," Forth said of the bicycle training park and his choice of the pinnacle project that will grant him Eagle Scout status. "I could not have done it without so many donations, in labor and money, and without the support of the entire community."

About a year ago Forth presented his detailed, complicated project to city commissioners. And while their eyes got big at the breadth of the project, they agreed to donate city land for the park. For Forth at the time, it was a "go big or go home" type of mentality.

"I really don't believing in doing just the bare minimum," the Troop 150 scout said. "That doesn't represent scouting for me."

He remembers being in the Appalachian Mountains and going to a shelter built years ago by a scout. It was still standing, permanent and a great source of pride. It motivated him.

However, Forth realized that if you do the minimum for a scout project, or the maximum, the outcome is the same. He simply wanted to go above and beyond. It's in his nature.

Today there is a 300-foot-long paved, two lane bike playground just opened Saturday, aimed for kids on training wheels up to about 12 years old. Forth said the purpose is to provide a place kids can learn safety while having fun. In the works are detours, stop signs and obstacles.

Corporate and private citizens donated much of the work at a cost of about $30,000. City Manager Kenneth Martin said the city kicked in some labor and has hosted "multiple Eagle Scout projects in the past."

"I'm very proud of John and this project," he said Saturday.

John said while the land was donated for the project, the bicycle park now belongs to the city.

Commissioner Art Giles is the president of Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Council, or BPAC.

"I'm so excited about this," he said. "It affords the opportunity for kids to learn safety."

Kelly is Forth's dad.

"Yes, it was a big project," Kelly Forth, John's father, admitted. "John was so lucky to have big community sponsors. This scout program is super."

Forth's mom said she was proud of her son.

"It's hard to put into words, he's always been a leader and very strong," she said. "He sits back and observes."

What Forth observed Saturday was an excited crowd that included many elected officials, and State Rep. Susan Lynn took a moment at the podium to express her pride in Forth.

"Let's celebrate our future Eagle," she said with a big smile. "You dedicated yourself and you are a living example of leadership."

While there's no paved parking, it's ample for those who want to enjoy this newest addition to the city.

Mayor Ed Hagerty was on hand as well. He read a resolution declaring Dec. 3 John Forth Eagle Park Day.

After the ribbon cutting, Hagerty noted he has a lot of grandchildren.

"We all ride bikes," he said. "This will be a great start for them."

Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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Tags: 
bicycle, children, community, cycling, Eagle Scout, Ed Hagerty, Mt. Juliet, Mt. Juliet Police Department, park, project
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