George Luzaitis presented his plans for an Eagle Scout project to the Wellesley Trails Committee back in February: building steps to ease the ups and downs of those negotiating their way between the Cochituate Aqueduct and Dale Street near the new skating and swimming facility on Rte. 9. The 2020 Wellesley High School graduate was a key member of the Raiders’ dominant cross country and track & field teams, and liked the idea of helping to improve the trails that he and his teammates often train on.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, and a project that was supposed to take place in early May got bumped indefinitely.
The project’s roots go back to fall of 2019, when Luzaitis connected with the Trails Committee’s Denny Nackoney, who observed that the steep-sloped hill coming off the aqueduct onto Dale Street was getting increased foot traffic with the opening of the sports center and a new traffic light across Rte. 9.
Due to the location’s proximity to Morses Pond, the scout had to get permission from the Wetlands Protection Committee, whose coordinator, Julie Meyer, provided lots of assistance.
Luzaitis got the all-important go-ahead from Troop 185 leader Paul Sullivan to proceed with the project on June 15. The Boy Scouts of America’s Mayflower Council interviewed Luzaitis about the project as well to go over safety protocols being implemented. He provided masks, new work gloves, hand sanitizer and emphasized social distancing where practical for his assistants, which included some senior ranking scouts and adult volunteers.
While the project took a long time to complete end to end, it should also last a long time. The steps have been constructed with 4 inch x 6 inch x 8 foot pressure-treated wood that had to be cut down and fastened together into 4 foot wide x 21.5 inch deep boxes. The survey work and measurements were critical to that last step ending up at the proper level coming off the trail.
There were plenty of rocks, roots and earth to work through during what Luzaitis’s father Mark described as “our own ‘big dig.'” Most of the earth was re-used to backfill the steps as they were installed. Crushed stone tops off each step.
So this project is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.