The Scout Cabin, nestled among the trees near Indian Gardens along the banks of the Des Plaines River at the southernmost tip of Riverside, is getting some tender loving care this summer — courtesy of a couple of aspiring Boy Scouts hoping to attain the rank of Eagle.
Earlier this summer as part of the requirements to obtain the Eagle Scout rank, Ben Lulich installed a fire pit outside the cabin. And by the end of the month, William Flaherty will be tackling a more ambitious maintenance project, which will include building a new flight of stairs to the main entrance of the building.
The log cabin, constructed of donated logs cemented together, was built in 1928 as an overnight retreat for Boy Scouts. The building was enlarged at a later date. It is operated and maintained by the Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation.
The village’s parks and rec director, Ron Malchiodi, said his department’s approach to Scout Cabin maintenance is normally reactive.
“What we do is usually not this comprehensive,” Malchiodi said. “Ours is more as-needed. [Flaherty] is going to address the entire scope of the cabin at one time.”
Flaherty appeared before the Riverside Village Board on Aug. 6 to explain the scope of his plan, which will serve as his Eagle Scout Service project, a requirement for the rank.
He expects to recruit about 25 people, most of them fellow scouts, to clean and stain the soffit and exterior walls of the cabin, replace broken plastic screening with steel screens, cut back trees that are too close to the building, patch the masonry and repair cracks in the concrete block foundation, clean the gutters and roof of debris and wash the windows.
In addition, he will be rebuilding stairs to meet the village’s building code. The existing stairs are not uniform. He’ll also be adding railings. According to Flaherty, the project is expected to cost about $1,200. He told village trustees that he had applied for donations from the Riverside Junior Women’s Charity and Frederick Law Olmsted Society. As of Aug. 6, he had raised $450.
According to Malchiodi, if the fundraising effort falls a bit short, the Department of Parks and Recreation can cover the difference.
“Whenever they fall short, we cover the remainder the cost because it is a benefit to us — a budget benefit as well as a long-term benefit,” Malchiodi said.
The Scout Cabin is used year-round, he said, by both scouts and the general public. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts used the building for weeknight meetings and the recreation department rents it out for private parties and receptions.
The cabin and the area around it are used daily during the summer for the recreation department’s summer camp program. In addition, the cabin has been used on more than one occasion as a set for TV shows.
Earlier this summer, Lulich built a fire pit outside the Scout Cabin. While the cabin is outfitted with a grill, it didn’t have a fire pit previously, though the recreation department allowed people to bring their own portable fire pits to the cabin.
The permanent fire pit, which cost about $450, is made of stone surrounding a metal liner and sits just southeast of the cabin.