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Vol. LXV, No. 39
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
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Access for Visitors to Mountain Lakes Preserve Greatly Improved by Eagle Scout’s Project

Ellen Gilbert

Just a little over a year after he obtained the go-ahead from the Princeton Township Historic Commission, Princeton High School junior Michael Treves and other members of Boy Scout Troop 43 have completed Michael’s proposed Eagle project at Mountain Lakes Preserve. The result is a 16-foot bridge that spans an 8-foot drainage ditch off Coventry Farm, where loose rocks made for hazardous climbing, especially in rainy weather.

Michael credited support from the Friends of Princeton Open Space as well Township Engineer Bob Kiser for helping to make it all happen. His parents, former OSHA employee Cynthia Treves and architect Francis Treves, along with other scouts’ parents, were also instrumental in seeing the project come to fruition.

Earning Eagle Scout status, Michael said, is “the highest achievement you can get in the Boy Scouts. You’ve fulfilled all the requirements and have ‘come of age.’” He described the interval in the Scouts that began when he was in the sixth grade and is now ending as a time of learning the “lessons of maturity and adulthood.”

No trees were cut down during the initiative, which took place, for the most part, off-site as the largely pre-fabricated bridge was constructed. The Township supplied building materials.

Although no formal ribbon-cutting has been scheduled, Michael said that he and the troop might mark the end of the project with their own event; possibly, he said, a five-mile hike.

The Mountain Lakes site was not Michael’s first choice for a project. His original proposal was to put trail markers on Institute for Advanced Study property. Their representatives, however, “had an ardent opinion about not putting anything on the grounds’ natural state,” so he had to switch gears. A conversation with Township Arborist Greg O’Neil gave Michael some ideas, including the possibility of a project at the Mountain Lakes Preserve. Although there was nothing immediately available, the Township followed up soon after, alerting Michael to the need for the bridge.

At last summer’s meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission, Michael’s proposal was met with real appreciation. “This bridge will enhance the enjoyment of the preserve,” observed Historic Preservation Officer Christine M. Lewandoski at the time. Commission member Robert von Zumbusch agreed, adding that the bridge “is really important and necessary in conjunction with the Mountain Lakes reconstruction, since the path system has been interrupted by the work currently going on there.” Commission member Avril Moore described the bridge as “a quality of life improvement.”

All in all, the project took approximately 300 man hours. Michael said that the best part of it was seeing “the same faces” return to continue working on the bridge. People developed “an attachment” to the project, he observed.

With one parent an architect and another interested in work environments, it might be easy to assume that Michael’s future lies somewhere in design or construction. The fine experience afforded by his Eagle Scout project notwithstanding, Michael said that he’ll probably either go to law school or get a doctorate in history.

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