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Scout plans to open bicycle playground for Eagle project

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A rendering of the bicycle playground local scout John Forth plans to build on land donated by the city. Submitted

Local scout to bring area's first ever bicycle playground to Mt. Juliet

City donates land for project

Mt. Juliet may soon have a unique European-style bicycle playground because of the vision, determination and fortitude of a local boy scout.

It's go big or go home for Mt. Juliet High School junior John Forth tackling his Eagle Scout project.

At the last Mt. Juliet city commission meeting, after Forth detailed his project for them, commissioners granted a small portion of city-owned land for Forth's bicycle playground project.

He has one year to complete it, and it is said this is the most ambitious Eagle Scout project in our area to date.

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

Forth said his motivation comes from his years in scouting where most Eagle Scout projects were building benches, signs, pathways and such. Not that he knocks those projects, but he wanted to do something more creative and permanent.

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

And what's "beyond" in this project? The budget is $52,000.

"I know, it is a bit ambitious, but I think with my determination and donations from the community we can actually do it," said Forth.

It will be located right next to the trailhead of a scheduled greenway (thus, the need for a checkpoint place) near West Division and 4th Avenue. The project is a 300-foot long, two-lane paved bike playground aimed for kids on training wheels up to about 12 years old. The purpose is to provide a place kids can learn safety while having fun. There will be detours, stop signs, caution signs and obstacles. There's enough land to have some green areas where Forth hopes to have a bit of playground equipment, benches and walkways.

Forth said a large portion of the budget, $20,000, is for "water quality work" that involves runoff direction as well.

He's got some interest from a local paver who might donate some of his services toward the project, and local engineer Rob Porter and his family may also try to help out in some way. Otherwise, Forth hopes the community will take an interest and donate in any way they can.

And while the commission has approved the donation of land toward the project, Forth still needs to get their official signature and then he's off.

"I plan to visit Lowes, the local bicycle businesses and other businesses to see if they will help out," he said.

There will also be upcoming fund raisers. The city commissioners were visibly impressed with Forth and his plans.

"I've seen a lot of Eagle Scout projects and this one will be very good," said Commissioner Brian Abston. "It's the most expensive one I've ever seen. If the fund raising doesn't go as planned, what will you do?"

Forth said he has alternate plans to shorten the bike path.

"But, I truly believe I can do this!" he said.

City Manager Kenneth Martin said there will be a monument-style wall for the names of significant contributors on the site.

Mayor Ed Hagerty said, "I commend you and wish you great success."

While Forth admitted he was a "bit shook up" when told his was the most expensive known Eagle Scout project, it didn't deter him in the least. He hopes to break ground on the project late winter/early spring. There will also be a Go Fund Me account and Facebook page to encourage and inform the community.

"This will be something permanent for our city, it will enhance the community and be something to be proud of," Forth said. "I just hope people will become interested."

For more information or to donate services, call Forth at (615) 881-4509 or email at johneforth@hotmail.com.

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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#community, bicycle, cycling, Eagle Scout, Mt. Juliet, ride, riding, scouting, scouts
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