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September 26, 2012

Scout to install handicap-accessible fishing platform

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — A new fishing platform at the pond in Municipal Park will soon make fishing much more accessible for all, thanks to Victor Hibbeln from Boy Scout Troop 125.

Hibbeln, a Rochester resident, came before the Rochester City Council Sept. 10 to introduce his Eagle Scout project, which was unanimously approved. As a boy, Hibbeln often visited the pond to fish, an activity he still enjoys today.

“I just love fishing, and I want everyone to be able to go fishing. … It’s kind of hard for handicap people and people in wheelchairs to go fishing, and I think that’s (something everyone) should be able to do,” he said.

Deputy City Manager Nik Banda, who suggested the project to Hibbeln, said he frequently sees residents in wheelchairs struggling to get close to the pond in Municipal Park to fish.

“Every day, out our windows, we see folks trying to go through the grass in wheelchairs, getting up to the rock, to try to cast and fish. It’s kind of tough, and a lot of times they aren’t making it that far. It’s very frustrating, so we wanted to find a way to make it aesthetically pleasing, yet functional,” he said.

The teen worked with Bob Bloomingdale of Bloomingdale Construction on the plans for the platform, which will be made of Trex — a wood-alternative — and be 10 by 80 feet, with a 6-inch curb. Hibbeln will also install a 3.5-foot-wide Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant ramp leading from the sidewalk to the platform as part of the project.

Hibbeln said he, his fellow Boy Scouts and some family members will complete the project over two weekends.

“One weekend would be getting the post holes punched in and dropping the posts in. The second weekend would be the assembly,” he said.

He estimates the project will cost around $1,000, which he hopes to secure through donations of money and supplies, as well as a pop can drive fundraiser.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Cuthbertson said he thinks it’s “a great project.”

“It’s great to see another Rochester resident doing good things in the community,” he said.

Council member Ben Giovanelli agreed. “This community never ceases to amaze me, the people that step up and take care of us,” he said.

The service project is one of many requirements that Hibbeln has to complete to become an Eagle Scout, the highest ranking for the Boy Scouts of America.

“It just goes to show that if someone attains the rank of Eagle, they have great leadership abilities. They are able to work with a large amount of people to obtain a common goal,” Hibbeln said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.