Fort Wayne Eagle Scout honored by Allen County Parks board for ‘amazing’ project
The project turned out to be much bigger than originally planned, and there were times Matthew Shiriaev felt discouraged. But the 16-year-old sophomore at Homestead High School kept at it.
After 800 hours of labor over three months and hauling in 280 tons of crushed concrete and limestone, Matthew had completed his Eagle Scout project and hikers at Fox Island County Park could use trails that have been under up to 2 feet of water for most of the past three years.
The Allen County Parks and Recreation Department board of park commissioners honored Matthew and thanked him for his work during their meeting Thursday in the nature center at Fox Island park, 7324 Yohne Road.
“There were a lot of times things would break down or the weather would wash away what I had done,” Matthew said before board members presented him with a plaque commemorating his work.
The member of Boy Scout Troop 302 just kept focused on the dream he said he has had since first grade — earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest youth rank in the Boy Scouts organization.
During the park board meeting, board President Kim Stacey described the scope of Matthew’s project as “amazing.”
Allen County Parks Superintendent Jeff Baxter praised Matthew’s “planning, hard work and attention to detail.”
Matthew, the son of Steve and Rhonda Shiriaev, said he started the project in November 2015 by speaking with Ron Zartman, Fox Island’s park and education manager, to see what projects the park needed help with completing. Matthew wanted to do a project that would be of the greatest benefit to the park and which also would have a lasting impact, so he chose to elevate and improve a portion of the trail north of the park’s Bowman Lake.
Trails in that part of the park have been flooded out most of the time since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed an earthen berm in nearby Eagle Marsh to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from crossing between the Wabash River and Mississippi River system and the Maumee River and Great Lakes system, Baxter said.
“For awhile, people couldn’t walk around the lake,” Zartman said.
Matthew planned to spend about a year observing the area and making plans for how to restore the trail to regular use. He originally intended to raise the trail about 1 foot higher along about 125 feet of the path.
The unusually wet spring last year, however, left the area under 2 feet of water. Matthew then decided to build the trail surface 2 feet higher than its existing level and to add nearly another 500 feet of trail to his project.
In addition, he and parks staff determined installing three metal drain culverts along the trails also would improve drainage.
Matthew started work July 1 on what he called the “Troubled Waters Trail Project” and completed it Oct. 2. He sometimes worked eight-hour days at Fox Island and other times went there to work on the project after football practice at Homestead.
“It was mostly back and forth trips with a Bobcat (skid-steer loader),” he said.
Dump trucks would deposit crushed concrete and limestone in the lake parking lot, and he would scoop it up in the Bobcat skid-steer loader and drive it to where he needed it on the trail.
Matthew said he logged 800 hours of work on the project and moved 280 tons of stone.
Local companies donated all of the materials and services he needed to do the project, he said.
Completing the work took a lot longer than expected, Matthew said. But he’s proud of what he accomplished and of being able to help the park.
“Now it should be able to stand all of the storms and stuff,” he said.
Matthew Shiriaev said the following people and companies donated time or materials to help him complete his Eagle Scout project at Fox Island County Park:
Roger Kuehnert of Brooks Construction
Old Prairie Products
R.L. McCoy Construction
Bobcat of Fort Wayne
Lowe’s Home Improvement (west Fort Wayne)
Dan Salman of Anthony Wayne Council of Boy Scouts of America
Parents and scouts of Boy Scout Troop 302
Allen County Parks and Recreation Department maintenance staff