Love Drives Eagle Scout to Improve LaPrele Park Accessibility
LARAMIE – In choosing Tanner Hyde’s Eagle Scout project, the Life Rank Boy Scout in Laramie Troop 138 wanted it to be something personal and meaningful.
While earning his Eagle Scout Rank, Tanner’s last requirement was to spearhead a large service project for the community. Love for his sisters is what motivated him to tackle the LaPrele Park/Huck Finn Pond accessibility.
“I have two sisters with special needs, one who is currently wheelchair bound,” Tanner said. “This has made me very aware of accessibility constraints and I decided to choose a project that would improve accessibility in Laramie.”
He said his two sisters, 12-year-old Audra Lynn and 6-year-old Nora, both have a disease called Sanfilippo syndrome, a progressive disorder that primarily affects the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous system, and is generally terminal in the teenage years.
“My older sister is in a wheelchair, and we love to come out here and fish at Huck Finn Pond. On this (east) side of the lake, the fishing is better. But it’s hard to get a wheelchair across all the dirt and up the steps on the bridge,” said Tanner.
“There is handicap parking by the shelters, but only one spot, and you have to be aligned with the road, so getting out of the side door is not very accessible,” said Tanner’s father, Braeden, who is also the Troop 138 Scoutmaster.
“This east parking lot, on the other hand, will be a very improved parking lot with a lot of handicap parking spots. Plus, this project integrates well with the City’s Spring Creek Trail plans.”
Before approaching the City with his idea, Tanner had a few hoops to jump through with the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout Board and its criteria to establish an Eagle Scout project.
After developing the concept, the freshman at Laramie High School approached the City about installing ADA certified ramps over the bridge and a concrete sidewalk to the pond last year.
He said it didn’t take long to get the City’s a-ok, but since the project was presented to the City in the fall, they had to delay the project over the winter until construction season started this spring.
“This will benefit not only those in wheelchairs, but also bikers, baby strollers, and the elderly who use this bridge,” said Tanner.
Tanner worked with a Civil Engineer and other professionals to research, engineer, and design this project.
“Last year, the estimated cost of the project, if the City did the project themselves, was $30,000,” Tanner said.
“That was if they hired an engineer, hired a contractor, and went through the whole city process. Tanner had to give them a presentation to show what it would cost them, but if Tanner did it on his own, and the city just paid for materials – Tanner asked for $7,000 – it’s a no-brainer, the city paying only $7,000 versus $30,000,” said Braeden.
The City approved the project and allotted the $7,000 requested for materials.
“The City has been very supportive,” Braeden said. “They have plans for the sidewalk, for the Spring Creek Trail project down to 9th St., and a path around the pond at a future date. This project kind of ties everything together. And as far as an Eagle project goes, this is a big undertaking. But Tanner has done very well with it.”
Tanner’s plan needed final approval of the Eagle Scout District Board, who reviewed every aspect of the civic project before granting its approval. Now, it is ready for construction in May.
“We have recently discovered that due to increases in material costs, the amount budgeted by the city is about $4,000 short of what we need to finish installing steel handrails,” Tanner said. “So I am asking our community - especially those who use LaPrele Park and who champion causes for those with special needs - to help me raise the needed money to finish our project.”
So far, the response from the business community has been stellar with their monetary and in-kind donations. Martin-Marietta will be doing the concrete work at a substantial discount; Bloedorn Lumber is helping with building materials to set up the concrete forms; C.H. Sarwar Fabricating in Cheyenne offered a great discount on steel handrails; Rodeo Excavation is doing dirt work at a reduced cost; and a few more that have offered services.
Tanner welcomes anyone - skilled or unskilled - who wants to help set up forms or pour concrete. The work will occur from May 7-11 in the weekday evenings and all day on Saturday. Anyone with concrete experience or tools would be appreciated - but not required.
Braeden said there are 11 very active scouts in Troop 138, and as of this summer, eight of them will be developing Eagle projects.
Braeden said the scouts have proposed several major project ideas that include cleaning up BLM land south of town; adding picnic tables and fire rings at Lake Hattie for Wyoming Game and Fish; building benches and tables for Beitel Elementary School; a mountain bike track on Pohl Mountain; and a few others in the early development stages.
“Thank you for your support and generosity. I wanted the community to know what we are doing, and to have the opportunity to participate,” said Tanner.
Tanner has set up a fundraising account at UniWyo Federal Credit Union to collect donations. Anyone can deposit – just say it is for “Tanner Hyde’s Eagle Project” or use the partial account #73867. Cash, check deposits, or account transfers are accepted.