A desire to increase accessibility in a Laramie park is motivating Boy Scout Tanner Hyde as he completes his Eagle Scout project this week.
Hyde, a freshman at Laramie High School, is leading the construction of ramps over the easternmost bridge in LaPrele Park and a concrete sidewalk that leads to Huck Finn Pond. Construction got underway Monday and was scheduled to wrap up by Saturday, weather permitting.
With the improvements, the bridge and pond will be wheelchair-accessible from the park’s parking lot, which sits on its eastern edge along Spring Creek Drive.
Hyde said the goal with his Eagle Scout project was to find somewhere in town where he could improve accessibility. He has two sisters with a rare, progressive genetic disease called Sanfilippo syndrome, which is caused by an enzyme deficiency. As a result, one sister uses a wheelchair and the other will need one soon.
“It’s a degenerative disorder,” he said. “They start losing skills.”
Hyde, his three younger sisters and two younger brothers love spending time together outside, so accessibility is always a consideration.
“We love this pond and we love coming here,” he said. “It’s easy to catch fish and it’s a fun time for kids.”
LaPrele Park has spots along Spring Creek for handicapped parking, but they sit on the street, making it hard to load and unload passengers.
The two steps that lead up and down the eastern bridge that crosses Spring Creek are quite steep because of erosion around the base, and the new ramps will aid cyclists, anyone pushing a stroller and other park users.
“We figured this would be the perfect opportunity to build ramps over here,” Hyde said.
The Eagle Scout Service Project is a requirement for a Boy Scout to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest achievement in the organization. The project, which must be approved by a board, should be done in service of others. The scout must plan and lead others in completing it.
Hyde’s project required city approval, and Todd Feezer, assistant city manager, described it as an ideal Eagle Scout project.
“This scout identified an issue, which is accessibility across the bridge and to Huck Finn Pond, and then he’s gone through the effort to organize and evaluate the project and put it into place,” Feezer said. “We’re real excited about what Tanner’s trying to accomplish for us.”
Feezer said accessibility over that bridge was a project the city had wanted to accomplish, and other park users had previously brought it to the city’s attention. An easier crossing will enhance the coming Spring Creek Trail and pave the way for a connection into the neighborhood to the south.
“It ties in very well with all of our future plans,” Feezer said.
Because the project was on the city’s list, the city contributed $7,000 toward the project from funds budgeted for infrastructure funding.
The project benefited from volunteer labor from fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 138, while Hyde completed the design phase with help from his father, Braeden, a civil engineer. Tanner also arranged contractors, raised additional funding and managed the budget.
“He drew up most of the plans and I finalized them,” Braeden said.
He said the project was a learning process for his son, from operating the planning software to scheduling contractors, gathering tools, fundraising and organizing volunteers.
“Every kid his age should know how to pour concrete,” Braeden joked.
Tanner said earlier this week he was excited to see grass already replaced by dirt and concrete forms, with the concrete pour coming soon.
“It’s a pretty satisfying feeling to know I designed this and I helped make this happen,” he said.