JACKSON – Eagle Scout Robert “Bobby” Baliatico recently joined forces with the Jackson Pathfinders for a special trail blazing project.
Pathfinders Chair Matt McCall said the project by the scout from Troop 109 out of Plumsted was recently completed “on our Silver Stream and Steve Kitay trails. Bobby’s project assisted the Pathfinders immensely. The bridge and two crosswalks he replaced had been on our radar for several months.”
“As a non-profit, we did not have the financial resources to afford the lumber necessary to complete the project. Scout Baliatico was the answer to our problems. The trail is now significantly safer thanks to him,” McCall said.
McCall is well aware of the benefits of teaming up with Boy Scouts. His son Matt was involved in an Eagle Scout project that benefitted the Jackson trails in 2021
Bobby is from Jackson. He will be a senior this fall at Jackson Liberty High School. The Jackson Pathfinders help maintain and promote the township’s trails.
“Completing any Eagle Scout project is impressive. However, the sheer size and scope of this project, in my opinion, warrants a little hometown recognition for this young man,” McCall added.
Surrounded by his family, volunteers and fellow scouts, Baliatico completed his Eagle Scout project that will benefit the popular community trails. He and his team installed a bridge and two walkways on the trails located across from 254 Frank Applegate Road and within the Metedeconk Preserve of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
“I got the idea when I was hiking these two trails with my father,” the Scout said. “We noticed that the current bridge was recently damaged in a storm and could not be used. We also noticed that two walkways on the Steve Kitay trail were old and needed replacing.”
Baliatico approached the Jackson Pathfinders with his Eagle Scout proposal and his plan was approved on the spot.
McCall said, “I was impressed with Bobby’s proposal the second I saw it. Bobby knew what he wanted to do. He came well prepared and made an excellent presentation. His proposal even had renderings of the bridge and walkways he was proposing.”
“I knew immediately that the Pathfinders would benefit greatly from his proposal,” McCall added. Over the course of several hours, Baliatico, his father Vince and mom Danielle as well as his sisters Diana and Sophia, and a handful of others removed the old crossings and installed the new versions.
McCall noted that this was no small feat as the bridge itself is over 10 feet in length and weighs several hundred pounds.
“The engineering behind both the construction of the bridge and the transportation of the bridge to the site location was my biggest hurdle,” the scout remarked. “My dad and I tossed around several different ideas about how to get the bridge the half mile it needed to go to the site.”
“In the end, we settled on several braces and large tires. The trail has several bridges, boardwalks and trees to crossover. My wheel design, and some manpower provided by my team, allowed us to navigate those obstacles with relative ease,” he added.
“Visitors to both the Silver Stream and Steve Kitay trails will now have a safer means to cross the Metedeconk River thanks to Bobby and on behalf of the Jackson Pathfinders. We are beyond grateful to this Scout for his vision, commitment to help, and expert craftsmanship. Our trails are even better now, thanks to him,” McCall said.
McCall added, “we just created a new addition to our existing Purple Heart Trail earlier this month. We are currently awaiting location signs for the trail. Once those have been designed and are put on the trail, I will send you an update. We are really excited about this new addition.”.
To learn more about the Jackson Pathfinders, and the trails in Jackson Township, visit jacksonpathfinders.org