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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019 1 year ago

Eagle Scout mends a bench in McClellan Park

Edward Menke fixed up a bench built in 1997 by a family to honor their matriarch.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

When Edward Menke and his family moved to the McClellan Park neighborhood five years ago, he discovered a bench in his neighborhood.

His father, Todd Menke, was already thinking ahead.

"I told him fixing up the bench would be a great Eagle Scout project," said Todd Menke. "When it actually came time to choose his project, there were a few he was choosing from, but I'm glad he did choose the bench."

Menke is a 16-year-old, who has been a scout for 10 years, attends Sarasota Christian School.

The bench, built around a tree in the neighborhood in a triangular shape, was dedicated to Cheri Robinson, a woman who died in 1997 of brain cancer. Her husband, Tom, dedicated the bench in her honor, which was right across from the McClellan Park home they shared. 

The bench had fallen into disrepair over the years following its construction by the Robinson family in 1997. Todd Menke said the bench was not safe to sit on by the time his son started working to deconstruct the original structure and then completely rebuild the area from the ground up. The wood is now sealed to protect it from the elements.

Menke began with the project in spring 2018, and the construction project ended in the fall. The new plaque on the bench declares the project completed in March 2019, which was when all of the landscaping and irrigation was completed. The rededication of the bench will take place on May 4, which the surviving members of the Robinson family plan to attend. 

"When I started, I had to present my idea to the McClellan Park Neighborhood Association and the city," Menke said. "It was really cool to work with people who are that well connected."

Menke raised $1,000 for the project through GoFundMe, a crowd-sourcing website, and through connections at the McClellan Park Neighborhood Association. 

Menke said one of the hardest parts was completing the construction project.

"I spent about 350 hours on the entire project," said Menke. "It will be really cool to take my kids back to the bench one day and tell them that I helped fix it up."

Menke said the whole project would not be possible without the assistance of his project coach, Alex Dorr, and his patrol mates in his troop. He also wanted to thank the city officials who helped with the project from the planning and parks and recreation departments.

On April 18, Menke will officially present his work to the Boy Scouts to earn his Eagle Scout award. 

Darren Robinson, the son of Cheri and Tom, still lives in Sarasota and is looking forward to meeting Menke on May 4.

"It's very cool and sentimental to our family," he said. "We're very thankful to him."

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