FAIR OAKS RANCH — Neighbors are heaping praise on Gavin McCrum, whose Eagle Scout project — with help from more than 20 volunteers — replaced a rickety bridge in Vestal Park with one that won’t flood.
McCrum, a Boy Scout with Troop 102, started planning the undertaking in June 2017 and brought it to fruition earlier this year.
Residents are ecstatic, saying the new 56-foot walkway was needed because the old one always submerged during bad weather.
“Can’t say enough about Gavin and just being an upstanding man in this community who has given us a fabulous asset,” said Debra Grandjean, vice president of the Fair Oaks Ranch Homeowners Association and chairwoman of the Parks & Trails Committee.
The latest bridge is wider and higher, allowing families with strollers to easily cross a natural spring. McCrum, 16, said the structure originally was supposed to be 36 feet, but it just kept getting longer.
“It was a project that sounded fun. It wasn’t like building park benches or something,” said the Boerne-Champion High School sophomore. “I figured I’d just get a bigger project, which I did.”
First United Methodist Church of Boerne sponsors Troop 102.
McCrum queried Grandjean for a project idea. She suggested rebuilding the bridge, based on the committee’s discussions with several focus groups whose participants included parents.
The city and the homeowners association provided some funding. The teen, a football player and member of the Future Farmers of America, also sold two cutting boards he carved, as well as raised $5,000 through donations from family and friends.
Grandjean said the Eagle Scout impressed her; this was the first time she’d worked with one.
“They are trying to instill in these young men skills that you don’t even get in the school system, which is real leadership and project management,” Grandjean said. “Those are skills that are invaluable in the marketplace as you become a young adult.”
In order to become an Eagle Scout, a candidate has to develop, coordinate and even raise funds for a significant endeavor benefiting the community.
Resident David Fairhurst, an engineer, aided McCrum with the bridge’s design, which is modeled after a style in Deer Meadow Estates.
Conditions during its installation, Feb. 24-25, weren’t ideal, according to McCrum. The day started rainy, then turned sunny and hot.
The ground was muddy and slippery, but Fairhurst, with the help of Jason Wilkes, Tony Bishop, Matt Cronic, Michael Kozub and Grandjean’s husband, Mark, managed to set the support posts to get the project going.
Numerous Boy Scouts helped, too.
“I did not want to fall short on anything,” McCrum said. “It just came down to getting other Scouts to lead smaller groups for me.”
Volunteers also assisted in laying the composite decking the homeowners association paid for, and stringers, the longitudinal structural pieces under the surface.
The decking is resistant to fading, stains, doesn’t splinter, warp, crack or split; and can be cleaned with soap and water, the manufacturer says.
“We laugh and say this thing is so industrial strength that it will be here when his (McCrum’s) children can play in that park,” Debra Grandjean said.
Families are now enjoying the Vestal Park upgrade.
Nicole Svendsen, who lives within walking distance of the green area, frequently visits with her two young boys.
“It’s a great update to the park. It looks nicer,” Svendsen said.