Nipomo teen spruces up Oceano park

When Nipomo teen Michael Blanchard first visited a small Oceano park this past spring, he noted a number of areas needing improvement.

The concrete was old and starting to crack, the fence needed repainting, and some people heading to a nearby recycling center would use a dirt-covered part of the park itself as a parking lot.

Despite some efforts to upkeep the park, it looked like “a patch of weeds,” Oceano Advisory Council Chairwoman Barbara Mann said.

“It just needed a lot of work,” added Blanchard, 16, a Nipomo High School junior. A longtime Boy Scout, Blanchard chose to upgrade the park as his Eagle Scout service project, one of the requirements he needs to achieve the highest rank in Scouting.

The triangular park is at the intersection of Highway 1 with Beach and 17th streets. It has been around for a number of years, but was dedicated to the U.S. bicentennial.

Blanchard started planning and fundraising in March. He covered almost all of the project’s $2,239 cost with donations, including funds from the Oceano Advisory Council, Oceano Kiwanis, Oceano Five Cities Elks and the Five Cities Community Service Foundation Cities, among other groups and individuals.

He spent much of his summer working. With help from other Scouts in Troop 450 and a few of their fathers experienced in construction and woodworking, Blanchard installed native plants, mulch and bark, had the concrete refinished, and built a wooden marquee board where the advisory council can display information about meetings and community events.

“It is just beautiful,” Mann said of the improvements. “It is one more good thing in town. This will have a lasting effect.”

A rededication ceremony will be held there Sunday at 2 p.m. Attendees are expected to include state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Paul Teixeira; a reception will follow at the Oceano Train Depot at 1650 Front St. (Highway 1).

Blanchard is now preparing for his board review — the last requirement before he may obtain the rank of Eagle Scout. While a part of Blanchard’s service project entailed giving back to the community, it also allowed him to demonstrate his leadership skills, Scoutmaster Phil Allen said.

When asked what becoming an Eagle Scout means, Blanchard said: “It’s someone who is dependable. It’s someone who is proactive in the community, who recognizes a situation and is able to get it done.”

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambertat 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.