City plans to dedicate part of Hike and Bike Trail to veterans

Simon Husted

The city of Kent will dedicate a segment of the Portage Hike & Bike Trail next month in honor of fallen and living solders.

In August, the Kent Parks and Recreation department selected the portion of the trail between Crain Avenue Bridge and the Riverbend neighborhood—a 1.3 mile walk–as the dedication site. John Idone, director of Kent Parks and Recreation, said the city plans to formally dedicate the site on either Nov. 11, the day of Veterans Day, or the day before.

By then, Idone said his department plans to install a stone marker, indicating that the area is dedicated to veterans.

The site will be the first piece of public property outside of Standing Rock Cemetery that’s dedicated to veterans.

“I think it’ll be great for local veterans,” said Catherine Hofer, president of Kent State’s Veterans Club. Six-hundred students receive veteran benefits alone at Kent State, she said.

The city began looking into various approaches to honor veterans soon after news of Spc. Adam Hamilton’s death reached Kent. Hamilton, a Kent native, died May 28 after sustaining wounds from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

During a June City Council meeting, Erik Valenta, an at-large council member, said the passionate response at Hamilton’s funeral and a compelling request from a resident motivated him to form a committee with Mayor Jerry Fiala and Jack Amrhein, council member of Ward 2, to gather ideas on how to honor service members in the Armed Forces. The idea to dedicate some part of the city for veterans came up immediately.

“It’s going to be dedicated for all veterans—not just one veteran, but all veterans,” Fiala said recently. “But it would stem from the Hamilton kid who got killed in Afghanistan.”

In August, city council gave the Kent Parks and Recreation department the duty of selecting a site for the veterans memorial.

“We suggested moving it over here because it has a definite start and stop point,” Idone said.

As of now, the department has no plans to include Adam Hamilton in the dedication, Idone said.

In July, Hamilton’s mother, Nancy Krestan, told council members that she and her family would prefer the dedication not be named after Hamilton.

“That’s not what we want and that’s not what Adam would’ve wanted,” Krestan said.

Previously, Standing Rock Cemetery was the only dedication site honoring soldiers in the city of Kent. The site was first dedicated with a civil war monument, and since then, newer stones have been planted around it to honor veterans who fought in other wars. The last stone planted at the site was in 2001 for Persian Gulf War veterans.

The site at the Portage Hike and Bike Trail will be the first military memorial dedicated since American soldiers entered into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Contact city reporter Simon Husted at [email protected]