Visitors to the grounds of the Hillsborough Township Municipal Complex may notice a recent addition to the site because of the efforts from one local Boy Scout.
On June 29, a special ceremony was held at the municipal complex to honor the work and dedication of Jack Szwarc, a Hillsborough Boy Scout for Troop 186, who chose to acknowledge the Hillsborough Township Police Department by developing a monument site for them as part of his Eagle Scout project.
The site, which is comprised of a large, two-ton boulder surrounded by two benches and a garden, is aimed to honor active duty police. The site is located behind the Hillsborough Township Municipal Building and adjacent to the police department entrance.
As a Boy Scout for Hillsborough’s Troop 186 for approximately four years, Szwarc, who is 15-years-old and will be a sophomore at Hillsborough High School in September, said he set out to make sure that Hillsborough police officials received the appreciation he felt they deserved in the community.
Although he does not have any relatives within the law enforcement field, he said he still felt obligated to do something for them.
“The reason I really wanted to do this was that I felt, in many ways, that the police and their service were forgotten in our community,” Szwarc said. “Often times, people center around the bad that the police do, and I really wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case in Hillsborough.
“Because of them, they really are the reason that Hillsborough is so safe, and I wanted to make sure people understood that,” Szwarc explained.
The project, which was completed in June, had been approximately a year in the making for Szwarc, who said he first approached the township to develop an idea as to what could be done to honor police officials.
With help from Hillsborough Township Administrator Anthony Ferrera, a plan was put in place to create a monument site.
Once the plan was set, Szwarc said much time was dedicated to ward fundraising for the project. With collected donations from Szwarc’s local parish, St. Joseph’s Church, he raised more than $1,300 along with donations from friends and family through a letter campaign, which raised more than $2,000.
The Hillsborough Boy Scout said he also went to a Tractor Supply Company store where customers and management helped donate as well.
As far as supplies for the project went, Szwarc said he already had most of the materials involved for the garden aspect of the site, which included shovels, rakes, gloves and wheelbarrows.
Although Szwarc said he had a plan in place for the site though once development began, the project did not come without difficulties. The Hillsborough boy scout explained that moving a two-ton boulder to the site was no easy feat.
“There were some things that sort of caught me off edge,” he admitted. “You always have a plan, but then something goes not according to plan.
“The biggest obstacle was moving the boulder,” Szwarc said. “It was a two-ton boulder that required me to get in contact with the quarry to see what type of tools they had to move it, and then also contact the parks department at the municipal building to have a backhoe truck put it in place.”
While Szwarc may have been met with several challenges throughout the project, he was quick to point out that it was the help from his fellow Scouts of Troop 186 who, ultimately, made the task possible to complete.
He reported that his troop helped him raise funds and install the garden around the monument site as well by moving rocks, plants and soil.
“They were a tremendous help. A lot of guidance came from them,” he said. “One of my scout masters is actually an environmental scientist, so he helped me figure out which types of plants would be best suited for the area.”
“Without them, it would have been impossible,” he added.
Throughout the project, Szwarc explained that he developed leadership and management abilities as well once he was at the helm of his fellow Scouts.
He said that as a senior patrol leader of his troop, he mainly helps run the troop along with other people, which he said he felt prepared him for this project.
“It was just directing people what to do and how to do it,” he said. “Especially, during the garden [portion of the project], there were a lot of scouts and you want to get it done in a fast time frame, and it really taught me how to manage others and delegate orders that way we could be very efficient.”
Not only was direct involvement with his fellow Scouts a positive experience for Szwarc, but he explained that his efforts to reach out to the community throughout the project process as well. Whether it was his communication with local business owners or municipal employees, the Hillsborough Boy Scout was grateful for the support from his community.
“The best part about the project was learning so many things about the town – meeting so many people in the town of Hillsborough,” he said. “I was able to meet so many great people that lived so close to me. The people at the municipal building were fantastic too. They were so helpful and kind.
“It made me feel a lot more connected with Hillsborough,” he added.
Now the project is complete, Szwarc said he still pays frequent visits to the site for upkeep. As the monument becomes a notable feature of the municipal complex, Szwarc said he will do his best to maintain its condition.
“For me, I think [the monument] is a fantastic tribute to what the police have done,” he said. “I drive by it a lot just to check up on the plants, and it’s really a beautiful site. It means the world to me that I was able to do something like this for our law enforcement.
“I want to make sure that even after the project, the site is maintained and clean. I also want to make sure that if there is anything I need to replace [at the site], I’ll be there for it,” he said.