Marilyn Long needed a fence.
Boy Scout Timothy Roy built it.
But unless Long fills out a form and pays $22, Oklahoma City could order her to tear it down.
Long and Roy found each other through a Langston University program that links Scouts with projects to fulfill the service requirement to become an Eagle, Scouting's highest rank.
Long, 58, runs the Northeast Resource Center, a one-stop shop for the needy in the heart of one of Oklahoma City's most poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
“The people are so much in need, they can't give back,” Long said.
The center established a garden last year behind its building at 1415 NE 23.
The garden produced cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, squash and other fresh produce, Long said. Vegetables grown there helped feed those who stopped by the center's food pantry.
More than 5,000 people got free food last year, Long said.
Stray dogs tore up the garden, though, so Long was in the market for a fence this winter.
That's how Langston came to put her in touch with Roy, a senior at Bishop McGuinness High School and a member of Troop 120 at Christ the King Catholic Church.
Roy said he and his dad scouted the garden, then Roy took the fence proposal to his Eagle board of review.
After getting the go-ahead, Roy raised $955 for materials. He gathered a crew, and they drilled holes, set posts in concrete and installed fence panels.
His crew put in 82 hours, he said.
When they finished on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last month, a handsome three-and-a-half-foot-high cedar picket fence surrounded the garden.
“Miss Long was almost in tears, that's how happy she was,” Roy said.
Before long, though, problems arose.
Long said someone complained to the city.
The city looked into it and found Long had failed to get a permit.
An inspector issued a notice, giving Long until Monday to set things right.
Long learned she needed to submit plans, drawn to scale, to get her permit. Before long, she'd gotten the idea she needed to hire an architect and pay $300 for the drawing.
None of that was true, but it prompted her to plead for an extension so she could make her case before the city council on Tuesday.
She told council members the garden was vital in a neighborhood where residents have limited access to fresh vegetables and struggle with addictions, obesity and diabetes.
And she repeated her fear that it would cost $300 to get her drawing.
“We just don't have that kind of money,” she said.
Mayor Mick Cornett interrupted her, saying, “It sounds like you were trying to do the right thing. Let us figure out what we can do and how we can help.”
The city responds
City officials did just that.
Jeff Heinze, the city's plan review supervisor, researched her lot and, working from a rough drawing Long brought to the council, drew up a site plan for her.
All Long has to do is come in, fill out a permit application and pay $22.
Otherwise, said Johnny Nubine, the city's chief building inspector, it's true: A fence built without a permit must come down.
City officials still were waiting for Long to make an appearance Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Timothy Roy presents the project to his review board next Tuesday.
And on April 27, he will become an Eagle Scout, the culmination of four years in Scouting.