Caldwell got a little more beautiful this summer thanks to the work of one 16-year-old Eagle Scout candidate.
Troop 6 member Colin Corliss spent the last several months clearing debris, conditioning the soil and landscaping an 800-square-foot area between the Caldwell Public Library and the Caldwell Community Center for his Eagle Scout project. The scout received a round of applause for his proposal in April from the borough's governing body, which gave the project the green light.
Corliss, an incoming junior at Newark Academy, knew the job ahead was a big one.
What he didn’t know was how quickly area residents and small business owners would lend their advice, support and donations to the project.
“I thought that if I asked people that we knew, or businesses that my family goes to, I might get some help,” said Corliss. “I never expected the incredible level of support that I received.”
Local contractor Cliff Charpentier of West Caldwell was the first to provide materials for the project, donating the supplies needed to build the cement platform that now holds the book and video drop boxes for the library.
Corliss sent out letters to several local nurseries and landscapers, planning to follow up with a personal visit.
“Before I could even visit, they were calling me, asking what I needed and offering to help,” said Corliss. “It was really incredible."
Joe Emmanuelle, Jr., of Caldwell Nursery in West Caldwell, spent time with Corliss walking through his plan. Emmanuelle suggested what kind of plants to use and donated the juniper bushes and magnolia tree that now anchor the area.
Suzy Stillo of Earth, Wind and Flowers in East Hanover, offered a variety of perennials, including grasses, catmint and blue carpet phlox. Caldwell resident and Earth, Wind and Flowers employee Nancy Hauser also chipped in with sedum perennials.
“The bushes, magnolia tree and ground covers will grow and spread over the years, filling the area with color,” added Corliss.
In addition, a nearby organization donated perennial bulbs for additional springtime flowers, including yellow daylilies and purple peonies.
Corliss was able to replace the rocks and debris with soil donated by K. Macken Landscaping, and peat moss provided by the Cedar Grove Garden Center. Corliss used donations from area residents to purchase the cement and rent a rototiller.
“We had to spread more than 500 cubic feet of top soil,” said Corliss. “We then conditioned the soil with the peat, and we were ready to plant!”
Corliss, his fellow scouts at Troop 6, and a band of volunteers finished the landscaping portion with a good watering and a layer of mulch.
So, what is next for the scout?
“I really want to include a sign that tells visitors what is on Provost Square,” said Corliss. “People come from all over to see a program at the Library, a game at the Oval, or swim meet at the Community Center. A sign would really finish off the area.”
Corliss is currently looking for local organizations that might be willing to help with the sign.
“It is something that I am really hoping to do. A lot of people drive by this area. I want them all to see how proud we are of our town and get a good first impression.”
Corliss lives in Caldwell with his mother and father, Christine and Matt, and brother Liam.
This article was contributed by Troop 6.