The News-Times


November 18, 1999

Cleanup mission complete

Boy Scouts Joe Calvo, above in foreground, and Tyler Cohen build a

boardwalk along the purple loop trail in Janie Pierce Park. Calvo initiated the project, which includes a cleanup, to become an Eagle Scout. At left, some of the tires are removed from the trail site.


By Amy D'Orio


SOUTHBURY Thank Joe Calvo for what you don't see.

When you walk the purple trail at Janie Pierce Park, the beauty of the woods, not discarded washing machines and tires, is what will catch your eye.

And don't be surprised if you don't see any mud on your shoes after trekking around the lake.

Calvo, 16, has spent the past few weekends hauling trash up a steep hillside, often in drizzling rain, and laying down 260 feet of boardwalk as part of his Eagle Scout project.

He finished Saturday.

"We had been wanting to improve it for seven or eight years," said Ray Coulombe, a Conservation Commission member.

Coulombe, also assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 162, said an alliance was formed some years ago between the commission and Boy Scouts to make improvements. For their Eagle badges, two Scouts Gary Gollenberg Jr. and Brian Coulombe created in 1996 some 900 feet of boardwalk, mainly through a boggy area that is a haven to birds but a bane to shoes.

Calvo's project is in a different area, but the boardwalk is no less welcome. It gets the hikers over 6-inch-deep mud.

The cleanup was initially considered a small job. It didn't look so bad, maybe one to two days of work. "It was planned as an extra," said Calvo. "It turned out to be much more."

Some 100 tires were lugged up the embankment by Calvo and helpers, as well as washers, dryers, a refrigerator, bottles, even a car frame and an inordinate number of ginger ale bottles. Clearing the area took two full weekends, a tractor and town dump trucks to haul away the piles of garbage.

Calvo was not deterred. "If I was going to do this, I was going to do a substantial project," he said.

Besides, as a member of the wrestling team, he was not about to let a few washing machines beat him.

"What was surprising was the amount of planning," he said.

He estimated more than 100 hours has been logged just in planning, organizing and attending meetings. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for him was starting the project. He needed town funding about $2,500.

He started work on the project in September 1998, but was told the town had no money to spare. Then he set his sights on a project for Heritage Village but ran into funding problems again. Then, in June of this year, Coulombe ran into Parks & Recreation member Bruce Gracey and heard the town had money for the park project.

"Once he got started, he really took the ball and ran with it," said Ray Calvo, Joe's father.

Calvo had to plan the project down to the tiniest detail and submit it to the Boy Scouts for a series of approvals. He then worked with the first selectman to get approval from the Conservation Commission and the Inland Wetlands Commission.

Then came the task of finding a reasonable way to get to the work site. Park neighbor Jack Shortt granted Calvo access to the working site through his property, saving Calvo from hauling wood over at least a half-mile of trail. Shortt even donated some muscle his tractor and allowed the Scouts to stack the debris on his fields for the town trucks to haul away.

Next was recruiting labor. He advertised the jobs to younger Scouts and managed their duties. Some 22 Scouts and fathers helped, putting in more than 120 hours.

The project cost $2,015.

Ray Calvo said the point of the Eagle Scout project is to teach project management skills, so the goal doesn't mean the Eagle candidate does all the work.

But his father noted with pride: "He was probably the hardest worker there."

Calvo also had to maintain grades at school college is not far off for the high school junior and after working in the park on weekends, he went back to school. The curtain for the school play would not go up without its technical director.

Calvo, who hopes to achieve Eagle status by February, said he will not relax until he finishes his report to the Boy Scouts on how the project went.

"Then I am going to be like 'Ahhhhhhh,'  " he said.


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