This is a computer generated graphic showing the plans for a new city park at 256 E. State St., Burlington, adjacent to BJ Wentker’s restaurant.

Prospective Eagle Scout looks to refresh vacant property with help from city

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

When Tommy Martin saw a blighted piece of property on State Street, the Burlington High School freshman recognized the potential of the property, which was abandoned after the owner left without paying nearly $100,000 in property taxes.

Martin, an aspiring Eagle Scout from Troop 336, shared his vision in Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Burlington.

“It was an eyesore to everyone and it was abandoned,” said Martin. “But, I believe it has a very bright future ahead of it, and that will be accomplished with my project.”

The property, which formerly held a gas station at 256 State St., Burlington, abuts against BJ Wentker’s restaurant.

The project calls for signs welcoming people to the historic downtown.

Also, Martin has plans to revive the landscape. He proposes adding ornamental grass, dwarf blue spruce and other items.

Rustic Road Landscaping of Burlington will provide the items at wholesale cost, according to his proposal.

“There will also be a variety of plants and trees that will be planted across the property,” said Martin. “There will be three pathways that will be going into the center of the park.”

At the center of the park, he plans to add benches, where people can sit and congregate.

While he plans to contribute labor in applying landscape items, Martin also told Committee of Whole members he looks to receive help from his Troop and adult leaders.

“My Eagle Scouts project seeks to benefit the community and we need to have at least 100 service hours of work,” he said.

To make his vision a reality, Martin has dedicated time in receiving donations, which he estimated at about $2,000.

“Fundraising of the project is very crucial,” he said. “I plan on reaching out to local businesses and civic organizations.”


Vision started last fall

The City of Burlington, which initially received the property from Racine County, only received one proposal when seeking to have the property developed.

Instead of seeking more proposals, the council opted to designate the property as green space.

Last October, Martin contacted the city with his idea, but progress on the project was derailed after his father died late last year.

The death caused Martin to temporarily step away from the project and left Mayor Jeannie Hefty concerned.

Hefty, who reached out Martin following his father’s death, said the city plans to help him with the project – which goes well beyond the scope of an average Eagle Scout project – providing support from professional contractors such as Rustic Road, Reesman’s excavating and Unilock.

Scott Erickson, of Rustic Road, worked with Martin on the design for the park, Hefty said, and was instrumental in getting the other contractors involved. Most have agreed to offer products and services at cost or discounted rates.

Hefty said that for liability reasons, the professionals have to be involved with the project because it will be a public park.

She also said the city is seeking help from professional landscapers who would be willing to help install the pavers on the park’s paths.

Hefty called the cooperation between the contractors and Martin “a heartwarming story.”

Martin said he did not lose sight of the project despite his family’s loss.

“That gas station was a dreadful view and when it was knocked down, I thought it was a good project,” he said.