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Dom Del Grosso stands proudly next to the completed stairs.

Domenic Del Grosso’s project is the latest enhancement at the County Park

The tennis players at the Rappahannock County Park now have a new “stairway to heaven” thanks to aspiring Eagle Scout Domenic Del Grosso.

For years, tennis enthusiasts had to scramble over decaying railroad ties that once served as stairs from the pavilion area, but over time had decayed into a jumble of uneven surfaces. Dom, who enjoys building “stuff” and working with wood and metal, saw an opportunity to make a difference in the community while pursuing the much sought-after Eagle Scout Award.

The stair replacement project had been on Dom’s radar screen since November 2017 while he was still far from his Eagle Scout goal. Dom, who hails from Boy Scout Troop 36, presented a preliminary plan to the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities (RCRFA) Board in June 2018 and submitted a revised plan with a cost estimate in December 2018.

Removal of the old railroad ties and installation of the new stairs occurred in July 2019, but the handrails were not installed until July 18, 2020, due to a combination of technical and logistical issues. The final project cost came to only $520.

Prior to this project, Dom had no idea how to build a stairwell, but he thought it looked easy enough. Just cut up some lumber and railing, stick it in the ground and add some gravel, right? Nope! 

He had to learn the equations of “rise over run” for the stairs and use trigonometry to calculate the proper angles for cutting the railing pieces. Then there was the decision of how many steps were needed to match the contour of the land. An eighth step had to be added later in the project.

Then there was the choice between using round or square railing stock. Using square stock made the cutting, welding and grinding process much, much easier. Then there was the logistics of getting three pieces of very long (24-foot) railing stock delivered from the manufacturer. Then there was the delicate field work of digging the footings for the railing posts which were very close to an underground power line (Miss Utility was called).Lastly, there was the critical skill of mixing the concrete to the right consistency for the railing footers.

Dom’s team consisted of his uncle Sam, his parents Mike and Juliet, his brother Anthony and a few friends and fellow scouts.

One thing that took Dom by surprise was how heavy the old railroad ties were. Similarly, the fabricated stairwell boxes took four adults to lift into place.

Dom is currently a Life Scout with 37 merit badges to his name. With the completion of this service project and some final paperwork, Dom will add the Eagle Scout award to his resume. Dom is a rising senior at Rappahannock County High School and plans to pursue mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech.

Congratulations to Dom and his team for their professional workmanship. The RCRFA and the community thank you for the new stairs.

 

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