Gibbs Pond Park has two new spots to sit down, relax and enjoy the scenery thanks to one local Boy Scout.
Nicolas “Niko” Maldonado-Molina, of Troop 566, unveiled two new benches he created for the park on Nov. 4 to Smithtown Town officials and the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce.
The benches — one standard and one ADA accessible — are for residents to utilize at the newly renovated playground at the park.
The project was part of an Eagle Scout project for Niko. He built the benches by hand and designed them with inclusivity in mind.
Niko hopes the benches will inspire similar, inclusive projects.
“Niko not only sought to build new benches for the playground area, he had the thoughtfulness of mind to create ADA accessible benches,” said Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim. “This is a great new addition to Gibbs Pond Park and we are thrilled to be here today to unveil them as Nicholas Maldonado-Molina’s Eagle Scout Project for Troop 566.”
The ADA compliant, handicap accessible bench has a 34-inch gap in the center, allowing for a wheelchair user to easily maneuver it into the gap and sit next to others, instead of having to place it beside the bench.
According to a release by the town, only about 4% of Scouts in the program achieve Eagle rank before their 18th birthday deadline.
Eagle Scout rankings are awarded to scouts who have proven dedication, perseverance, and a strong work ethic.
“With the help of many people, I was able to complete this project,” Niko said. “With over 50-plus hours of collecting and recycling 10,000 bottles, we raised $500, so that we could build these cedar benches that belong to this park now.”
The benches at Gibbs Pond Park are one of several recent improvements made to the park in recent years.
Other renovations include new landscaping, state-of-the-art LED sports lighting, turf resurfacing, reconditioning of the tennis and basketball courts, and new playground areas.
“I thought it would be unique to do this as a way to give back to my community and include a portion of people who might be overlooked,” said Niko.
Top: Smithtown officials and Nicolas “Niko” Maldonado-Molina at Gibbs Pond Park (courtesy)