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Boy Scout overcomes civic hurdles

POULSBO — When Garrett Steele was inspired to build a handicapped ramp at Kvelstad Pavilion, little did he know the obstacles he would face in the three-year journey to get it built.

The project is expected to be completed this week as Steele, a member of Boy Scout Troop 1577, earns his Eagle Scout badge.

“I got the idea when I was dancing at Viking Fest and a lady in a wheelchair had to be carried by four grown men to get out of the rain,” Steele said.

At the time, he was a First Class Scout but he knew the project was the one he wanted for his Eagle Scout.

“I went to meetings with the Port of Poulsbo, the parks commission and the city council and met Bill Austin, who originally built (the pavilion),” he said.

Through those meetings, Steele said he learned what it would take to get the wheelchair ramp done from the permits required by the city to the design requirements and the myriad of other issues associated with such a project.

“I talked with Andrzej (Kasiniak) at the city and he told me the city already had plans to improve the park and that I would need to wait until then before starting my project,” he said. “However, that took almost three years.”

Work on the improvements at Waterfront Park and the bulkhead between the Sons of Norway and the Poulsbo Marina were expected to begin in March. However, that work has been delayed.

Steele made a presentation to the city council in December and another one in January to update council members on his progress and what he planned to do.

“The city has been really supportive of it and I know how government works,” he said.

City staff guided him through the permit process and helped incorporate his project into the overall improvements planned for the park.

Another help along the way is the fact that he is homeschooled, Steele said.

“It made it a lot easier being able to meet with city officials first thing in the morning,” Steele said.

For Austin, seeing Steele’s tenacity and determination at such a young age is simply inspiring.

“I’m very proud of him and what he’s doing,” Austin said. “If he has this much willpower to do what he’s doing, he should be rewarded.”

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