ALACHUA ‒ Renovations to Alachua Boy Scout Troop 88’s scout hut are almost complete. Chartered in 1912, Troop 88 is one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the United States and has a long history in Alachua and with the Alachua Lions Club. After the Alachua Lions Club was chartered in 1931, the organization began sponsoring Troop 88.

Located on Northwest 142nd Terrace across from the Alachua Post Office, the Alachua Lions Club broke ground for the expansion at the site of the existing scout hut on Nov. 10, 2023. Plans called for extensive renovations on the building, plus a major expansion increasing the scout hut by two-thirds. The existing restroom will be renovated, and an additional wheelchair accessible restroom will be constructed. The expansion also includes an entirely new HVAC system and a covered front porch.

According to Alachua Lions Club records, the first scout hut in Alachua was built in the 1930s with the assistance of the Alachua Lions Club. When that building burned down in 1983, the Alachua Lions Club stepped up once again, and headed by club member Gilbert Whitman, spearheaded the construction of a new scout hut. Funds were raised by the Lions and many “man-hours” were donated to construct the new building, Lions Club records state.

The concrete slab for the current scout hut was poured and the building began to take shape in February 1984. The building was enlarged from the original size, giving the troop a chance to grow and include more scouts into the scouting program. Upon the completion of the building, Boy Scout Troop 88 dedicated the new scout hut in memory of Whitman who was killed in a car accident on Feb. 14, 1984 after spending the day pouring the concrete for the hut.

In 2017, Alachua Lions Club member Gib Coerper began heading up an effort to raise money for a major expansion and renovation of the building. The expansion comes with a price tag of about $185,000, with all construction and design costs and efforts donated either in cash or in-kind.

Completion was originally anticipated for mid-December 2023. But construction lagged due to delays in obtaining materials unique to the building. Speaking about the renovations, Coerper said they now expect completion in the March timeframe. In the meantime, scouts have been utilizing the Alachua Lions Club building next door.

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