Delaware scouts spruce up park
For some people, community service is a chore. But members of a local Boy Scout troop see it differently.
"It's a lifestyle," said John Gribben, 14, of Delaware's Boy Scout Troop 61. "It's how we live every day."
The Delaware Hayes High School freshman and 16 fellow scouts spent nearly three hours installing new vegetation at Stratford Woods Park last Saturday morning, April 6.
The scouts planted about 75 individual trees and bushes near the north end of the park, located near the intersection of Liberty Road and Hawthorn Boulevard.
The area used to be heavily wooded before the development of adjacent neighborhoods.
"We wanted to reintroduce some native trees and expanded the wooded area that still exists," said Nick Eyerman, scoutmaster of Troop 61, which is composed of scouts in grades 5-9.
New trees also will improve the natural buffer between the park and nearby homes.
Newly planted bush species include gray dogwood, buttonbush and Carolina buckthorn.
Among the new trees are sycamores, bur oaks and red oaks.
Ed Kapraly, owner of Riverside Native Trees nursery, helped the scouts select and plant the trees and bushes.
In addition to enhancing the look of the park, the project will improve local ecology, city officials said. The vegetation was planted strategically to beef up the park's stormwater drainage channel, called a bioswale.
Landscaping elements along the bioswale help remove silt and pollution from stormwater by slowing the flow of the water before it re-enters area streams and rivers. It also helps slow soil erosion.
After the landscaping work was completed, the scouts walked around the edges of the park picking up loose bits of trash.
"This was a good chance for us to get out and do something visible that will improve the community," Eyerman said.
For Gribben, who plans to pursue Eagle Scout status soon, it was just another Saturday.
He said members of his troop try to help whenever they can, mowing grass, raking leaves or participating in an annual food drive.
Improvements to the 15.5-acre Stratford Woods Park have been ongoing for several years, Delaware spokesman Lee Yoakum said.
Since a new recreation tax was approved by voters in 2008, the park has received 116 new trees, new walking paths, shaded swing stations and additional benches and trash cans.