May 11, 2012 - Eagle Scout Project Beautifies Jazz Depot

There's a brand-new look to the greenery around the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, thanks in great part to an Eagle Scout project undertaken by high-school sophomore and Eagle Scout Garrett Parks.


"Garrett and Boy Scout Troop 26 completely rehabilitated our streetscape," says Jazz Hall CEO Jason McIntosh. "What they did represents  over a 100 hours of work and thousands of dollars worth of materials."


It took several months of effort by Garrett and the nearly two-dozen volunteers who worked with him. But the genesis of the project goes back even further, originating with Garrett's one-time assistant scoutmaster, Jeff Hartung, some three years ago. 


Hartung works at Level 3 Communications, which happens to lie just across the street from the Jazz Hall of Fame. Sometime back, he was passing the hall on his way to work, when "I noticed that the landscape of the property needed more color and landscaping," he says. Soon after he volunteered along with his wife and sons to make a difference.


As a result they lead an effort to refurbishing the plant beds around the building, cleaning them out and planting new flowers and grasses.  They've continued to lead our landscaping project ever since, performing hours and hours of volunteer service that McIntosh calls "inspiring and invaluable."


The Hartungs also have two sons who are Eagle Scouts.  And Jeff Hartung and Jeff Parks, Garrett's dad, are longtime friends who share a commitment to scouting. (In fact, back in 1978, no less a figure than former President -- and Eagle Scout -- Gerald Ford, during a visit to Tulsa, pinned the Eagle badge on Jeff Parks and 12 of his fellow scouts.)  So, when Parks mentioned that his son Garrett was looking for an Eagle Scout project, Hartung knew where he could find a good one.


"Jason [McIntosh] and I had been talking about getting scouts involved," recalls Hartung. "So when Jeff came to me asking if I knew of anything, I said, `Funny you should ask.'"


"Mr. Hartung, who's the former assistant scoutmaster of my troop, Troop 26, came over to our house for dinner one night," adds Garrett Parks. "He knew I was looking for an Eagle project, and he knew that the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame was ideal for an Eagle Scout project. Jeff put the bug in my ear. It sounded like a rewarding and fun."


Garrett also knew it would be work.


"For something to be an Eagle Scout project," he explains, "it has to benefit a non-profit organization, it has to take a minimum of 40 man-hours, and it's got to be something that makes a difference. You can't just come in and repaint the wall of a building."


After meeting with McIntosh and Hartung, Garrett saw that all three of those criteria would be met in the proposed Jazz Hall project. So, they came up with a budget, raised the necessary money in the community, and Garrett started in, aided by many other volunteers.


"We excavated all the old debris in the planters in front of the depot, brought in new soil, and planted Knock Out Roses, Mondo grass, and meadow sage," says Garrett. "Mondo grass helps bring out the roses, and the meadow sage has purple flowers. According to Mr. and Mrs. Hartung, purple and red are jazz colors. They're going to be putting in some other annuals and perennials."


In addition to the considerable help from volunteers, Garrett cites the contributions of "Under the Sun Garden Center" in bringing the project to fruition. "They provided the planting material we used, and gave us a significant discount," he says. "They were a major contributor to the project."


Tulsa Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. praised the group effort: "It's always great to see young people who have a vision and then work to fulfill it. Beautification projects like this one at the Jazz Hall of Fame are vital to our city, and they will help us regain our status as America's most beautiful city...It is through the efforts of volunteers and community leaders like the Hartungs, Garret Parks and his Boy Scout Troop 26, that we will make a difference in our community. I hope others follow their example."  



"Garrett and his team did a terrific job, and we're blessed that he chose the Jazz Hall for his Eagle Scout project - it's a wonderful improvement that will be enjoyed by the thousands of students, parents and tourists who visit the Jazz Hall every month," says CEO McIntosh.


"The Jazz Hall has always had good experiences with Boy Scouts, " he adds. "We even have two Eagle Scouts on our staff!"