A historic property in rural Plano, Sherman R. Cook Memorial Scout Park, is under re-development through a partnership between Plano Rotary, the Plano American Legion and Boy Scout troop 71.
In 1965, Plano Resident Carrie P. Cook, widow of Sherman R Cook, deeded the property located at 1701 Little Rock Road, Plano, to “be used by the youth of Plano, including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Plano Illinois.”
In declaring the trust, Cook identified her “interest in the youth of this country, and more specifically in the organized Scouting movements in the Plano, IL, area.” She wished to create a living memorial to her deceased husband, noting that he was equally interested in youth and Scouting during his lifetime.
Because of their shared interest in scouting, Cook deeded the property in Little Rock Township to the Plano Rotary Club with the express stipulation that the real estate be used for scouting purposes and known as Sherman R. Cook Memorial Scout Park. The perpetual trust was written to allow the property to be managed by three members appointed by the Plano Rotary, the American Legion Post and the Plano Boy Scout Troop Council.
For many years, the property was relatively under-utilized. Eagle Scout Michael McGinnis of Plano developed a trail encompassing the property and created two primitive campsites as part of his Eagle Scout candidate service project, and members of Boy Scout Troop 71 have held primitive camping weekends on the property.
Two years ago, the trustees of Cook Scout Park began re-development of the property, and on Oct. 18, 2016, a re-dedication event and ribbon cutting was held. The property is natural undisturbed woodland. In recent months, the lane into the property has been renovated. A turn around lane for vehicle access has been created, and new trails and educational augmentation of the property is planned.
A new entrance sign has been erected to identify the property, while University of Illinois Master Gardener volunteer Gloria White arranged for the donation and planting of native plants to beautify the entrance to the park.
In future months, plans include additional fencing, development of a trail system, and establishing primitive campsites and other desirable features.
Jim Hill, commander of Plano American Legion Post #395, said the three trustees of the property are dedicated to “preserve the pristine and primitive nature of the property.” Thousands of volunteer service hours have already been logged.
“We continue to identify aspects of the property worthy of note, including the foliage and natural features,” Hill said. “This is an outdoor learning space that we want to share with the community.”
Plans continue for educational opportunities at Cook Scout Park, including allowing for local colleges such as Waubonsee Community College and Aurora University to use the property for classes and field trips, as well as opening the property for scout groups and other local youth organizations.
The Plano Rotary Club offers its thanks to the many organizations and individuals who have helped in the development of Cook Scout Park to date, including the city of Plano, Kendall County, Little Rock Township Road Commissioner Dick Wade, Plano American Legion Post #395, The Growing Place of Aurora and Naperville, Home Depot, Rural King, the University of Illinois Extension Service Master Gardener Program, Anderson Pool of Ottawa, several individuals including Master Gardener Gloria White, Ed Sleezer of Plano Rotary, Joe Roberts of Plano Rotary, and Mike Nadeau of Plano Troop 71.
The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through its fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.
Plano Rotary Club meets weekly at noon. Meetings include lunch and information, guest speakers, and reports on club projects, including Interact Club at Plano High School, Cook Woods Property in rural Plano, and scholarship projects to support local youth. For more information on projects supported by Plano Rotary Club, contact Rich Healy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: Plano Rotary Club news release