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By Allison Jarrell

A 14-year-old Boy Scout is looking to change the way hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians enjoy the coastal views atop San Juan Capistrano’s Patriot Hill.

John Boranian, a freshman at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, plans to install a picnic table, benches and public telescope at the peak of the popular Patriot Trail for his Eagle Scout project.

A Life Scout with San Juan’s Boy Scout Troop 724, Boranian said when it came time to choose his Eagle Scout project, he opted to focus on Patriot Hill because “it honors those who have served our country” and “has the most spectacular view overlooking San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and the Pacific Coast.”

Boranian met with city staff in November to learn about the city’s review process and to make sure his proposal was compatible with the character of the area. After designing the project, gathering samples of materials and coordinating fundraising, he presented his plans to the city’s Trails and Equestrian Commission in December.

During his presentation, Boranian said the majority of the project’s estimated cost—$3,500—would come from the $2,500 telescope. The young scout intends to secure funding through a combination of crowdsourcing and donations from local businesses, family and friends.

Boranian estimates the project will take three to five days to complete with the help of four or five scout volunteers.

While the entire commission expressed interest in the proposal, several commissioners voiced concern about the potential for theft and vandalism at the site. Boranian replied that vandalism would be the main issue, as the telescope and table would be cemented in place.

Assistant Public Works Director Tom Toman said that much like San Juan’s other parks and trails, the city would respond to service requests at the site.

Trails and Equestrian Commission Chair Renee Ritchie commended Boranian for his enthusiasm and ambition.

“I think that you’re very passionate about this; it’s something you have your heart in,” Ritchie said, “and if you’re willing to take that leap, I think that’s great.”

Commissioner Brian Maryott—who was recently elected to the City Council—congratulated Boranian on the well-thought-out plan and presentation. Maryott said he understood the vandalism concerns, but also pointed out that it’s possible the site would be respected by visitors.

“I don’t think we should stop doing good things just because we worry about the behavior of others,” he said. “I think we need to have faith and expect good things and good outcomes.”

Toman said the Patriot Trail improvements will go before the City Council for approval on Jan. 17.

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