Park to commemorate bicentennial

Nedda Pourahmady

To mark the city of Kent’s bicentennial, a park will be built next to the Pufferbelly Ltd. restaurant, railway and gazebo downtown.

As a trustee for the Kent Historical Society, Margaret Garmon said planning has begun to develop the park to honor this milestone.

“It’s a nice setting and it brings people downtown,” she said. “By having it here, it adds more attraction and interest.”

The new Bicentennial Park will have distinct features, including a marker for the founding of the Erie Depot in 1875, said Sandy Halem, president of the Kent Historical Society’s board of trustees.

In addition to the marker, Halem said there are plans for old mill wheels from Kent’s early flour mills to be placed near the park.

Garmon said a large, bronze relief costing $30,000 will also be added to the park. She said the piece will include faces of the people who first settled in Kent, the railroad, the canal and other works of art contributed by students.

“It’s a learning tool,” Garmon said. “You can imagine what this was like before railroads and canals.”

Along with serving as a historical outlet for the community, Halem said the park will create a downtown meeting place for families and visitors.

“It becomes a place that gets known in town,” Halem said. “It helps strengthen downtown as a gathering place, and that’s so important for a small town.”

Garmon said she finds it hard now to spot any artwork around downtown Kent.

“The bronze relief will be the first piece of art downtown,” she said. “It’d be a nice, permanent way of saying we’ve been here 200 years plus.”

Mayor John Fender, a co-chair on the Bicentennial Committee, agreed that the park would be important to the community.

“It’s educational in nature,” he said. “Teachers from second-grade to high school can take their students to the site. I think it’s significant for people to see.”

Fender said last year, each month was filled with events in order to celebrate the bicentennial. For all those people involved in the celebration, he said he thinks they will be greatly impacted by the park’s bronze relief.

“Those people who look at the relief will see their own significance,” Fender said. “Students will remember the whole year comprised of activities.”

Overall, Fender said he thinks the park will be a remembrance, not only of the city’s bicentennial, but of those who contributed in creating the park and all of its elements.

“This might lead to other nice art pieces placed in the city,” Fender said. “It’s a great community undertaking.”

The Bicentennial Committee wants to complete plans this winter and open the park by next spring or summer.

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Nedda Pourahmady at [email protected]