When Nathanael “Nate” Bloom turned 17 in May, he knew he would need to work aggressively to meet his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout before his 18th birthday.
By August, Bloom, a city resident, had selected his service project: the revitalization of the Hubbard Nature Center.
At the time, he noticed some of the walkways and decks had fallen into disrepair and many of the railings were covered with graffiti. There was also a lot of overgrowth, and the trail had not been cleaned up in a while.
As he looked closer, Bloom learned something else about the trail. Some of the graffiti was actually carefully painted artwork, something he started calling “uncredited artwork.”
Bloom decided he wanted to preserve the artwork as part of his service project and to design it in two phases.
The first phase would be the revitalization of the park’s infrastructure, which would require clearing overgrowth, retrieving trash, and repairing and painting the graffiti parts of the walkway, he said.
“The Hubbard Nature Center is an educational resource in our city,” said Bloom, a member of Boy Scout Troop 899 in West Haven. “Removing offensive and profane graffiti will make it an appropriate place for young children to learn. I believe that people will be less likely to vandalize artwork than freshly painted boards and that the beauty of nature and art will combine to make this a unique and wonderful space.”
After the Parks and Recreation Commission approved his project in August, Bloom initiated the planning process and organized a group of about 20 fellow Scouts, Scout leaders, parents and volunteers from the community to complete the first phase, which involved replacing missing or broken boards, cleaning up the trails, improving handicapped accessibility, removing debris, and selectively painting over the graffiti.
Now, from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Bloom is inviting other members of the public to join in and roll up their sleeves for the final step of the revitalization project by adding new artwork to the walkways and railings.
“In the second phase, I would paint over graffiti on the walkway while preserving the local artwork there,” Bloom said. “The community would then be invited to add to the artwork in exchange for a nonperishable food item that would be donated to the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force.”
Acrylic paints and brushes will be provided, but artists are encouraged to bring their own.
The 7.6-acre park is on Hubbard Road, which runs between Jones Hill and Benham Hill roads in West Shore.
The Eagle Scout service project is the most critical component of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
According to Scouting guidelines, service projects need to be “helpful to any religious institution, any school or the Scout’s community, and it needs to benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.”
As part of his project, Bloom needed to measure missing and broken boards and to estimate the necessary lumber, paint and hardware to complete the park’s revitalization.
When asked about the most difficult aspect of leading the troop in the project, he said, “Keeping younger troop members on task and focused will be challenging.”