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Recreation Agency Rediscovers Green Thumb With Help Of Valhalla Eagle Scout

Jonathan Pugni of Valhalla renovated a greenhouse for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne for his Eagle Scout project.
Jonathan Pugni of Valhalla renovated a greenhouse for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne for his Eagle Scout project. Photo Credit: Contributed
Jonathan Pugni faced several challenges in renovating a greenhouse for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne.
Jonathan Pugni faced several challenges in renovating a greenhouse for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne. Photo Credit: Contributed
The greenhouse needed extensive work, which Jonathan Pugni provided for his Eagle Scout badge.
The greenhouse needed extensive work, which Jonathan Pugni provided for his Eagle Scout badge. Photo Credit: Contributed
Friends helped Jonathan Pugni with his project for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne.
Friends helped Jonathan Pugni with his project for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne. Photo Credit: Contributed
A greenhouse at North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne was renovated by Jonathan Pugni of Valhalla for his Eagle Scout badge.
A greenhouse at North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne was renovated by Jonathan Pugni of Valhalla for his Eagle Scout badge. Photo Credit: Contributed

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. -- Jonathan Pugni knew refurbishing a greenhouse for North East Westchester Special Recreation in Hawthorne would be a terrific project to acquire his Eagle Scout badge.

Pugni, a Valhalla resident and a member of Hawthorne Troop 1, discovered the project required more effort than he originally thought. He is applying the finishing touches to the greenhouse before he leaves to begin his freshman year at Northeastern University in Boston.

“When I first got there, it looked like it was going to be a quick project,’’ Pugni said. “Replace a few side panels, clean the inside, put a door on. Pretty simple stuff. When we cleaned it out, we found a lot of structural damage that we didn’t know. We had to repair that to the best of our ability. We had to replace a whole bedding table panels because the wood had been damaged.”

Pugni found the project with the help of his father, John, and Steve Mott, the Parks Superintendent for Mount Pleasant. He approached North East Westchester Special Recreation Executive Director Janet Riley, who approved the project. Boy Scout officials also approved Pugni’s work.

He received donated material from his father’s construction company. Friends family, and members of Troop 1 also contributed time and supplies. Pugni’s friends, Andrew Milite, Nick Romeo, John Schuerger, and Annina Bulfamante, helped Pugni with the renovation. Troop 1 members Chris Steccato, Joseph and Kevin Andrews, JoJo Warne, Aiden Healy, Charles, Chris, and Jack Panzerella also helped Pugni, with carpentry work done by Kenny Michelin Jr.

“When I spoke with the director, she wanted something that would stick out, so it didn’t look like it was part of the garage,’’ Pugni said. “We put in a little stone pathway and painted the walls a different color so that it really stood out.”

Riley said North East is thrilled with the project, and Pugni approached it methodically.

“Jonathan has been very thorough in his approach to the project,’’ Riley said. “Using the guidelines developed by the Boy Scouts, Jonathan presented an organized proposal of the work to be done and an approximate timeline for completion. He did a great job coordinating people to assist him and he kept me up to date on their progress.

“He was conscientious and concerned about safety for his workers as well as our campers and the public who may be in the area,’’ she added. “The end product promises to be even better than we expected. In addition to the work agreed upon, Jonathan plans to go above and beyond the scope to provide the best greenhouse possible using the tools and resources available to him. We look forward to many hours of therapeutic recreation in the space.”

Pugni said the last time the greenhouse had been worked on was by a Boy Scout troop from Somers in 1992. Carpenter ants and general decay had taken their toll on the structure.

Pugni, a June graduate of Iona Prep, worked on the project all summer when he was not not attending to children at his summer job as a lifeguard. The engineering major feels the lessons he learned will help him as he pursues his college degree.

“One of my goals was to see and build something that is used by people every day,’’ Pugni said. “I knew I had to be strong in math and science for engineering. I feel like this could be something that helps me down the road. When people ask if I’ve done any projects, I can point to the this as experience an engineering achievement.”

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