GUILFORD >> On a sunny Saturday, a small motor boat headed to Grass Island laden with a generator, chain saw, two large garbage bins, an architectural drawing and eight eager workers.
This was the first of many trips planned this summer to renovate Guilford’s iconic red shack.
For nine months a red snow fence has encircled the building with multiple signs in large red lettering stating, “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY NO PUBLIC ACCESS.”
In his endeavor to earn his Eagle Scout ranking, John Markowski, a Life Scout from Boy Scouts of America Troop 471, is leading the project. He anticipates being completely done by the end of summer.
“Back in December when we were just starting, it was all just a little thought,” said Markowski.
“Now that we’re actually going to be going out there and doing some stuff, it’s pretty incredible.”
Oliver Bishop, Markowski’s Eagle Scout advisor, has total confidence in Markowski.
“In my tenure as scout master I’ve had 31 Eagle Scouts and John is right on the top of the list as far as organization goes,” Bishop said.
“This is probably the largest Eagle Scout project that’s been done on the Shoreline area, ever, without a doubt. This is absolutely huge.”
Yet, Bishop has no doubt Markowski will carry through.
“I knew John from the beginning that he’d get stuff done.”
The Parks and Recreation Department has made small repairs over the years, yet there is no money in the budget to undertake the type of restoration project that is essential today.
To date, $18,000 has been raised through various channels, including https://www.gofundme.com/grassislandshack.
This includes matching funds, up to $10,000, from the Guilford Foundation. Any monies not used for the renovation will be invested in the Save the Shack/Grass Island Fund to support maintenance and repairs in perpetuity.
First order of business was to take measurements for the architectural firm Spindrift Design LLC. They will draw up the final plans, pro bono, which will be submitted to the town for final approval. In addition, the group cleaned up the area.
Other businesses providing donated services are Markowski’s father’s business Markowski & Sons Developers LLC, Contractor Michael Malatestra and the Town of Guilford.
Volunteer forms are available at www.savetheshackguilford.com. Once the project receives its final approval, Markowski will contact individuals who have expressed interest.
“This is a really wonderful project to take on and good luck,” Terri Connelly Cronk said to Markowski, as she walked along the beach with her brother-in-law, Richard Connelly.
“We’ll look forward to seeing it next year,” she said, of her annual trips from Madison, Wisconsin to visit her family cottage.
“It’ll be brand new again,” replied Markowski.
“But still with its charm intact” said Shank, to which Markowski replied, “Yes.”
A fundraiser is planned for Tuesday, July 12 and Tuesday, July 19 – 10 percent of all proceeds at the Guilford Mooring, 505 New Whitfield St., Guilford will be donated to the project.