By Maryanne Cdristiano-Mistretta
A piece of land on Elm Road, preserved as Open Space, had an entrance that was never well defined. It was hard to get to the area to walk through the woods and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Jean-Baptiste Mollet, 17, of Caldwell, had a vision to build a set of wooden steps, clearing the brush and making a lovely walkable path, along with a rope fence to better define the space. With more than 25 volunteers involved, and the borough providing funding for some of the supplies to support – the rest was fundraised by Mollet.
The result is terrific, according to Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing.
“My project helped mark the boundary and install steps, inviting the public into the park,” said Mollet. “In order to invite use, my team dug ten steps into the hill and terraced them with wooden railroad ties. This made it easier to access the park for everyone. The last part of the project consisted of creating a footpath from the stairs to the park inside of the property. The swath of land in-between has been overgrown with weeds and other plants and I will need to clear them before laying down a mulch path. This will benefit the town because it will make access to the rest of the park much more practical.”
When Mollet went before the town to present his project, the town was so impressed that not only did they approve the project, they approved a budget of $1,000 and up to $1,200 for all materials. The Council’s Eagle coordinator approved the project.
“I then contacted the town’s clerk and worked out when they could deliver the supplies,” said Mollet. “Once that was done, I scheduled the work sessions accordingly and asked friends, family, and fellow Scouts to help me out by helping out at my project. Once the project was done, I went back to the town and presented a small PowerPoint of photos to showcase what the property looked like before, during the service project, and after once everything was done.”
Looking to rank as Eagle Scout was the inspiration for the project which took more than 40 hours during the course of a couple months. There were about 50 or 60 people helping out according to Mollet.
With all the hard work it took to complete the project, there were certainly challenges. For instance, the amount of wood Mollet had planned for to build the steps didn’t give him enough to reach the top of the hill. They also had to get more gravel and mulch, as they used more than Mollet thought they would.
Completing the project was definitely rewarding for Mollet. He said, “I like to be hands on. I like to see something happen. I had to make everyone understand what I was looking for.”
Mollet plans on staying in Boy Scouts until he is 18. Then he is going to focus on the future leadership of his troop. He said, “So I can feel safe; leaving the group in good hands.” After that he’ll be in college but can remain active as an adult as an assisted scout member.
He said, “I think that Scouts is a very great way to let men and women grow. You’re in a safe place to fail. You can have a position in the troop; if that doesn’t work out, there’s always people to help you. It’s always about service. I really hope I can be one of the adults that allows the youth to have these opportunities.”
Mollet is currently looking for engineering schools and would like to do something with computers in his future.