Cienfuegos-Baca attains Eagle Scout after ambitious church plaza project

He almost didn’t make it.

To become an Eagle Scout, Michael Cienfuegos-Baca had to finish his service project before he turned 18. He turned in the last of the paperwork the day before his birthday.

“I almost timed out,” Cienfuegos-Baca said. “You have to become an Eagle Scout before you turn 18 or you do what they call ‘age out.’ You have to have 21 merit badges, 12 of those have to be toward an Eagle and you have to do a community project.”

Cienfuegos-Baca picked the Holy Family Parish Church near Lee Martinez Park in Fort Collins as the site for his project.

“We did the entryway into the plaza (on the north side of the church),” Cienfuegos-Baca said. “It involved an archway, a garden bed, the archway overhang with a sign that says ‘La Placita,’ a plaque with the names of people who did the work, and two pillars.”

It took the Wellington teen weeks to get donations and to find a general contractor for the bricks-and-mortar project. Then Richard Alaimo, whose son was coincidentally also working to become an Eagle, agreed to take on the job.

“He knew what I was going through,” Cienfuegos-Baca said.

But as he was working his way through the project and his deadline approached, Cienfuegos-Baca discovered he was going to need a building permit from the city of Fort Collins for the work.

“They usually approve those in two weeks,” Cienfuegos-Baca said. “I didn’t have two weeks.”

After he explained the particulars about how he needed the project to be done by April 3 in order to qualify as an Eagle Scout, the city approved the project in two days.

“They were absolutely great,” Cienfuegos-Baca said. “I was just lucky the historical society didn’t have to get involved because that would have taken a year.”

Cienfuegos-Baca said he had to document the project every day. From start to finish it took 1,735 hours and cost $3,300 for supplies, time, concrete and labor, all of it donated or paid for by contributions.

“It didn’t cost a penny out of pocket,” he said.

Cienfuegos-Baca is now working on collecting money to go on a scouting canoeing trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area between Canada and Minnesota.

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