NEW LONDON, Minn. (WCCO) — What started as the dream of a fallen soldier is becoming a reality.

After a friend died while biking along County Road 31 near New London, Ryane Clark wanted to make the area safer.

He came up with the idea to build a parking lot to make it easier.

But Ryane never got to see the project through.

“He wanted to work with the community,” said Ryane’s mom, Tracy. “He wanted to do projects.”

It was a part of who Ryane was.

In 1999, his friend Cody Berg was killed after being hit by a car while biking along County Road 31.

Mourning the loss of his friend, Ryane decided he wanted to build a parking lot where people could unload their bikes away from the busy road.

“Ryane never forgot about Cody,” Tracy said. “He came down here with the lawnmower and started mowing because cars were parking along the road.”

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Ryane drew up plans for the parking lot, but funding was hard to come by.

“It was kind of a back burner,” Ryane’s dad, Rick, said. “It wasn’t a major thing at first.”

Ryane stuck with the plan even after he graduated and joined the Army. But in 2010, Clark was killed while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tracy and Rick weren’t about to let their son’s dream slip away, and they let the state know it.

“We told them we were serious,” Tracy said. “We told them it had to get done. That was it, it had to get done.”

So 12 years after Ryane started his project, his parents are finishing it. They finally got the funding to pave the parking lot. And on Thursday, volunteers helped add flag poles.

For Tracy and Rick, it’s hard not to wonder what Ryane would think.

“I think he’s just like ‘yes,’ finally. Knowing him, he’s smiling from ear to ear, sitting right with Cody and smiling.” said Tracy.

The Clarks say they still need to add pavers to the parking lot, and next year a memorial stone will be added.

It will have both Ryane and Cody’s faces on it.

If you’d like to help support the Ryane Clark Memorial Fund, click here.

John Lauritsen

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