ALACHUA ‒ Alachua Boy Scout Troop 88 and the Alachua Lions Club broke ground on a new scout hut Nov. 10, 2023 at the site of the existing scout hut, located on N orthwest142nd Terrace across from the Alachua Post Office. Chartered in 1912, and one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the United States, Troop 88 has a long history in Alachua and with the Alachua Lions Club.

After the Alachua Lions Club was chartered in 1931, it began sponsoring Troop 88. 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 but was burned down in 1983 as result of arson.

Continuing its dedication to Boy Scout Troop 88, Alachua Lions Club members, headed by Lion Gil Whitman, spearheaded the construction of a new scout hut to replace the one that burned down. Funds were raised by the Lions and many “man-hours” were donated to construct the new building, Lions Club records state.

In February 1984, the concrete slab for the current scout hut was poured and the building began to take shape. 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 decided to dedicate the new scout hut in memory of Lion Gilbert 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 scout hut. The expansion comes with a price tag of about $185,000. All of the construction and design costs and efforts have been donated either in cash or in-kind.

The project will be a complete renovation of the existing 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.

Coerper said he expects construction on the project to move at a fast face, with completion as early as mid-December. While the scout hut undergoes the renovations, scouts will utilize the Alachua Lions Club building next door.

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