Ball field, tennis court, playground well under way
CORNELIUS – Cutting through the thick bamboo was the hardest part. Over the years, the foreign invader has grown thick and tall in the woods just south of the Robbins Park Crescent.
Philip Piriano said he and 11 or 12 fellow Scouts and friends needed four days to clear the quarter-mile trail from the crescent on Catawba Avenue, through the bamboo, around the pond hidden in the woods. The trail is Philip’s Eagle Scout project, one of the last requirements he needs to reach Scouting’s highest rank.
He can expect a recommendation from Troy Fitzsimmons, park superintendent for the Town of Cornelius, who supervised the 17-year-old’s work. Philip’s trail connects to an earlier trail completed by fellow Troop 82 member Ben Austin for Ben’s Eagle Scout project. Philip and Ben helped each other on their sections of trail, and they’re likely to jump in this summer when Alan Simonini, another member of Troop 82, takes on the final eastern section of the trail for his Eagle Scout project.
When complete, the three Scouts’ work will provide the first east-west trail tying 107-acre Robbins Park to McDowell Creek Greenway, which stretches to Birkdale Village. Eventually, another trail, which will have to bridge a large creek, will connect the 19-acre Westmoreland Athletic Complex with Robbins Park.
Fitzsimmons, an avid runner, already has taken test runs on the sections completed by Piriano and Austin. He almost has to run to keep up with all the activity occurring on West Catawba Avenue south of Westmoreland Road.
Construction crews are busy installing a restroom and a forest-theme playground area at the top of the crescent. Other crews have leveled the ground on both sides of the crescent road for a soccer/general purpose field and tennis courts. Fitzsimmons expects the town to hold a grand-opening ceremony in September.
Just last week, Cornelius commissioners approved a contract with Cornelius-based Goodrum Construction Co. to begin work on the second, and final phase, of the Westmoreland Athletic Complex. That complex will offer tournament-quality baseball fields, which town officials hope will attract more out-of-town teams and tourist dollars.
And the entire complex of fields and trails should entice Cornelius residents to get outdoors.
Philip’s new trail already beckons to some. On a visit to the trail Thursday, April 21, Philip and Fitzsimmons discovered someone had recently installed a sturdy wooden bench and footrest on one side of the pond, near Philip’s trail.
A junior at St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont, Philip is the son of Enrico and Dianne Philip. Enrico Piriano helped Philip cut, install and anchor a sturdy wooden-plank bridge across a creek that leads to the small pond. Piriano also got help from his older brother, Joseph, 20. For his Eagle Scout project a few years ago, Joseph worked on a neighborhood park off Jetton Road.
Guess who was there to help? His younger brother, Philip.