When Michael Valenti was looking for his Eagle Scout project, he didn’t have to look very far.
He belongs to Boy Scout Troop 12, in Lutz, and it meets just a couple of blocks away from the Lutz Memorial Park.
The 16-year-old said he had noticed that the Lutz Memorial Park, at 98 First Ave., N.W., needed a bit of sprucing up, and he decided it would be a fitting Eagle Scout project.
So, he organized a team of helpers, secured donations and got busy.
The base for the flagpole was already there, but it wasn’t in good shape, Valenti said.
“There was just grass all around here, so when the mowers would come, they would chip out the base,” he explained. “Some of the paint was peeling off.”
The plaque wasn’t in great shape, either.
“We removed the sign, scraped all of the paint off. We repainted it, and we got these two new signs,” Valenti said. The new plaques came from Crown Trophy in New Tampa.
Before the project began, crews from Hillsborough County’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department removed some concrete.
Then, Valenti and his volunteers went to work.
“We laid the concrete, then we planted this large flower box around it,” he said.
The volunteers also built a flower box near the Lutz Memorial Park sign.
The teenager wanted plants that could tolerate the sun, the rain and the drought. In other words, he was looking for low-maintenance plants that could survive in sandy soil, he said.
Since he wasn’t sure what would be best, he turned to gardening experts for advice.
He settled on blue salvia, pink guara and firebush.
“Over the course of two weekends, we had more than 40 people,” he said, including several members of Troop 12 and friends from Freedom High School.
Several local businesses helped out, too.
“John’s Butcher Shop and Benedetto’s (Ristorante Italiano) provided the food,” he said. “People allowed us to use their facilities, like their water and their bathrooms,” he said.
“It would have been about $2,000 with everything, including food and whatnot, but Lowe’s and Home Depot gave us significant discounts,” he said. Ace Hardware, in Lutz, helped, too.
Valenti is gratified by the prospect of becoming an Eagle Scout.
“It’s kind of the pinnacle of your scouting career,” said Valenti, who lives in Lutz and is the son of Ron and Rose Valenti.
“It’s taken years of hard work to get where I am,” said the teenager, who will be a junior at Freedom High School.
And, it’s an accomplishment with staying power, he noted. “Once you’re an Eagle, you’re an Eagle for life.”
Valenti was a third-grader when he joined scouts, and he hopes he will become a scout leader when he’s an adult.
“It just ingrains very important values,” he said, and prepares youths to become good citizens.
Besides being on the path to becoming an Eagle Scout, Valenti has earned 48 scouting badges and is a member of the Order of the Arrow, scouting’s national honor society.
While he does well in school and plans to attend a state college, he hasn’t pinned down which career path he’d like to pursue.
Published July 5, 2017