Eagles of a feather flock together in Hampton Bays.Four young men from the hamlet officially joined the ranks of Eagle Scout on Saturday during an Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony held inside the St. Rosalie’s Church Community Center.
Johann Tran, Timothy Berglin and Nicholas Romagnoli, all 18, and Colin Cuccia, 17, became the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th members of Hampton Bays Troop 483 to achieve the highest honor in Boy Scouting after completing their final projects last year.
With four members achieving the top rank, the group tied the troop’s record for most Scouts to earn the rank of Eagle in a single year and their Scoutmaster, Allen Schneider, said this was the only time he can recall four Scouts being honored in the same ceremony.
Choking back tears on at least one occasion during the nearly two-and-a-half-hour long ceremony on Saturday, Mr. Schneider said he was proud of the accomplishments the four Scouts tallied under his tutelage.
“I’m with these boys from the time they’re 10 years old until they’re 18, so I really get to see them grow up,” he said after the ceremony. “I have so much time spent with them, it’s like being a dad. I’ve been able to teach them important life skills, and it’s very gratifying.”
For his final project, Mr. Romagnoli assembled a makeshift helicopter cabin out of PVC pipe and plastic construction fencing to be used by the Hampton Bays Fire Department Dive Team in training drills.
Originally, Mr. Romagnoli wanted to create a fake car to serve the same purpose, but after conferring with fire department officials he learned that they already had enough cars to practice on. They did not have a helicopter, however, and with the high number of them flying over the East End during the summer months, he said a crash landing is plausible.
“I did all the planning—I actually took a ride in a helicopter to get all the safety features down and then started to build it,” Mr. Romagnoli said of the project he began in the summer of 2012. “A lot of the materials were donated by Ricky’s Plumbing and Heating [Supplies in Hampton Bays], and I had a fundraiser to buy all the other stuff, but it was just mainly PVC pipe.”
Mr. Romagnoli is enrolled at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where the freshman is studying restaurant, food and beverage management. He said he hopes to one day own his own chain of restaurants.
Two of the Scouts set their sights on improving the parks in Southampton Town. Mr. Tran repaired the fitness trail in Red Creek Park by widening the walkway, as well as clearing brush and debris after Hurricane Sandy last fall, and repairing and relocating the fitness station signs. He also installed new signs—including a welcome sign—and designed a new map of the trail using GPS coordinates.
Mr. Berglin, meanwhile, focused his efforts on Squiretown Park, where he installed a new map kiosk and put up fencing along the park’s bluffs that overlook Peconic Bay to improve safety for park visitors hoping to enjoy the scenic views.
Mr. Berglin also installed a waterproof container, called a geocache, which is used in a game where participants try to locate various containers using GPS coordinates. Typically, once participants find a geocache, generally by using a GPS device or a mobile phone, they sign a ledger then put it back inside the container and place the cache back where they found it so someone else can discover it.
“The project was originally conceived because I went down to Squiretown Park … and I was looking around the place, I could barely find my way around without some help,” he said. “So I figured a map with a nice kiosk and some nice handheld maps would really help the environment feel more friendly for people to come out, because it really is a beautiful spot down by the beach there.”
Mr. Berglin is a freshman at SUNY at Oneonta studying music industry and although he’s not sure exactly what he wants to do, he hopes to have a career that involves music.
Mr. Tran, who is studying political science and economics at SUNY at Binghamton, said he put his project off until seven weeks before his 18th birthday last January, leaving him very little time to get it done. But, with help from friends and family he was able to complete it in the nick of time. (Eagle Scouts must complete their projects before their 18th birthday.)
“As a kid I would run on the trails and I would use it, but they became really rundown,” he said of Red Creek Park. “They were covered in brush, they were pretty crappy, they were hard to use and falling apart, so I figured it would be a good idea just to fix this up and add more stations to it.”
Mr. Cuccia, a senior at McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, got the idea for his project by talking to the Southampton Town Trustees during the summer of 2012 to see what he might be able to do to improve the beaches and they suggested he plant beach grass along the protective dunes. After Hurricane Sandy hit, the beaches were in even greater need of nourishment, so he planted the grass along a 5,000-square-foot stretch of Tiana Beach.
“I surf, I use the beach a lot, I’m always there during the summer, so I just thought it fit perfectly with what I do and it would also help the community,” Mr. Cuccia said. “I didn’t even know about Hurricane Sandy, as none of us did, when I started the project and it only pushed me further to do the project because of the need of restoration of the dunes after the storm.”
Mr. Cuccia, who has not yet decided where he wants to attend college, said he hopes to pursue a civil engineer degree with a focus on environmental sustainability.