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Eagle Scout project destroyed by county public works
After more than 140 hours of work to design, build and construct a set of pedestrian stairs along the Clear Creek Trail near Waaga Way and Ridgetop Boulevard, it took only one bureaucratic moment to destroy them.
The stairs, which were built in 2004, as an Eagle Scout project by Tyler McFarland, fell victim recently to a Kitsap County public works safety improvement project at that intersection.
“It’s devastating to drive by and see it,” said Gary McFarland, Tyler’s father. Tyler, who now lives in Utah, and who is trying to become a police officer there, doesn’t even know about his work being removed, his father said.
“I haven’t even told him yet,” McFarland said. “I know he’ll just be so upset.”
According to Jon Brand, assistant public works director, the stairs were removed because they were not ADA compliant and they were removed to discourage pedestrians from illegally crossing Ridgetop Boulevard in the middle of the block.
Brand said the county is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation, making safety improvements to traffic signals and improving pedestrian crossing at the intersection with new curbs ramps that meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The project began in August and is nearing completion.
He said prior to work beginning in the area, the county consulted with Harrison Medical Center which owns the property and with the Clear Creek Task Force, which cared for the stairs as a part of the Clear Creek Trail that runs in the area.
He said Harrison approved the removal of the stairs and the task force did not indicate that removing the stairs was an issue.
Mary Earl, spokeswoman for the Clear Creek Task Force, said the task force assumed the area would be returned to its original look with only slight modifications due to a new sidewalk.
But that wasn’t what happened.
“There was no indication given to public works that these stairs had any type of ‘special ownership’ tied to them,” said Brand. “Had we known, we would likely have made the same decision (to remove them) but I know that we would have tried hard to locate and notify the Eagle Scout who constructed the stairs to work something out.”
That does little to help the McFarlands now. Gary and his wife, Janice, Tyler’s mother, live and work in Silverdale and were recently in the area of Waaga Way and Ridgetop Boulevard and saw the work.
“We saw where the stairs and the stabilization of the bank that was part of our son’s project has just been torn out,” he said. “It looked like the crews working at the intersection just took it all out.”
After that discovery, McFarland said he contacted the Kitsap County Commissioners and the public works department by email. He also contacted Tex Lewis, formerly the chairman of the Clear Creek Task Force.
“Tex got right back to me and said he was very upset at what happened,” McFarland said. “But it’s been two or three weeks, and I’ve heard nothing from the commissioners or that county.”
It was on Monday, after The Central Kitsap Reporter called the county that Brand emailed information to the McFarlands.
McFarland said Lewis told him he knew there was going to be work in the area, but wasn’t aware that the Scout’s 2004 project would be destroyed.
“Tex feels real bad about this and I don’t blame him or the Task Force in any way,” said McFarland. “What’s so hard about this is that an Eagle Scout project is meant to be something that lasts. It’s suppose to be something that our son can come back years from now and say ‘I did this for my community.’”
Tyler did receive his Eagle Scout award as a member of Boy Scout Troop 1506 in Tracyton. He was 16 years old at the time and went on to graduate from high school and from Western Washington University with a degree in humanities.
“There was just so much time and effort put into this project, not only by Tyler, but by everyone who helped him,” said McFarland.
He added that when he drives in the area, he sees people walking down the side of the hill where the stairs used to be.
“I would like the county to take the plans we still have and restore the area to look as it did,” he said. “They need to step up and do the right thing and restore it.”
But that’s unlikely to happen, according to the county. The contractor threw out there stairs because they were in poor condition, Brand said.
“The stairs were partly in Kitsap County right-of-way and created a potential liability for the county,” Brand said.
As part of the project, however, a new ADA access to the trail will be constructed beginning at the handicap ramp, he said.