Troy residents Jeffrey Kerr, front, and Jeff Kelly, prepare to unload chips onto a trail within Phillip J. Huber Park. The two have been voluntarily helping to maintain the trail.

Troy residents Jeffrey Kerr, front, and Jeff Kelly, prepare to unload chips onto a trail within Phillip J. Huber Park. The two have been voluntarily helping to maintain the trail.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Troy resident helps maintain park trail

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published September 22, 2020

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TROY — According to Troy resident Jeffrey Kerr, there is a “hidden gem” right in the heart of the city that most residents aren’t aware of.

That “hidden gem” is a trail within Phillip J. Huber Park that is approximately 1.3 miles long.

The park’s address is 3500 Civic Center Drive, which is near City Hall and the Troy Public Library.

The trail has come to take on an important role in Kerr’s life in recent years.

He has been in the habit of taking his dog for a walk and/or run on the trail, and it was on one of those excursions about seven years ago that he made a decision to start voluntarily helping to maintain the trail.

From his perspective, the trail wasn’t being properly maintained, and he wanted to help do something about it.

Kerr’s work on the trail goes from approximately Memorial Day through September.

He guesstimated an average of two to three trips per week to the trail, with the amount of hours spent there varying.

When Kerr saw wood chips the city had laying on the ground near the trail, he scooped them up with a shovel, unloaded them into a wheelbarrow and dispersed them along the trail.

He has also cut up parts of trees that have fallen on the trail, removed them and cleared brush.

Kerr referred to himself as the “pruner of the trail.”

“Every growth season, when we’re in the spring, summer months, if I wasn’t coming out here and cutting all this stuff back constantly, there’d be no path to walk on,” he said. “It would be all overgrown.”

Kerr said his wife “thinks I’m kind (of) crazy that I spend as much time as I do out here doing this.”

He has been married 23 years and has two daughters.

Kerr was formerly a minority owner in a tool and die company before stepping away in 2007 to raise his children.

He discussed his motivations for volunteering.

“I guess part of it was wanting to use the trail for fitness, but the other part was, I was getting older, (and) it’s like, ‘maybe I could stop being so selfish in my life; I could start giving back to the community,’” Kerr said. “And rather than trying to do it in (an) overt way where it’s like, ‘hey, look what I’m doing,’ I would come out here and I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing.”

Despite that, Kerr has heard comments about his work on the trail.

“The best satisfaction you get out of it is I’ll pass someone on the trail, and they don’t know me. And they’ll make a comment about, ‘It seems like someone’s really taking care of this trail. It’s so wide open,’” he said. “Hearing that, that someone recognizes that, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ That just makes your day. It makes it feel like it’s all worthwhile.”

After being a solo volunteer for so long, Kerr recently got some extra help.

Troy resident Jeff Kelly went for a run on the trail on a recent Friday and saw Kerr with his wheelbarrow and shovel.

He inquired if Kerr worked for the city.

“I was kind of impressed that he was taking time out of his day to do that,” Kelly said. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a neat thing. This is a great way to give back to the community.’”

It was more than just the time Kerr was volunteering that got Kelly’s attention.

“The thing that kind (of) got me was, No. 1, that he was doing this all by hand,” Kelly said. “But then when he walked me around part of the trail and showed me some of the things that he had done over the years, that’s where you start to get a long-lasting impression of this guy’s dedication.”

A couple days after initially meeting him, Kelly decided to join him in the effort.

He spent about 4.5 hours helping Kerr out on a recent Sunday.

“Between the two of us, we probably dropped off about 50 loads of wood chips,” Kelly said. “It felt good to do something that others can take advantage of. … I’m getting some exercise out of the deal, too. So, all around, it was fun; I enjoyed it.”

Kelly — who has been married more than 25 years, is the father of three and a software development manager — has since gone back to help Kerr some more.

What the two have helped to maintain is a trail that can make residents feel like they’re not in Troy anymore.

“It’s a really nice atmosphere,” Kelly said. “It’s kind of a cool escape. So, really glad that I ventured over there this year. I’ve lived in Troy for 25 years and had completely forgotten about it.”

Kerr and Kelly would like for the city to supply more chips that can be dispersed on the trail.

Dennis Trantham, who is the facility and grounds operation manager for the city of Troy, recently became aware of some of the work being done on the trail after speaking with Kelly. He said it is a “positive thing,” and acknowledged that the city is willing to provide more chips.

If that comes to fruition, the pair could use some help from other Troy residents.

“It’s a big deal because the more people from the community that pitch in to make this place what it should be, as opposed to what it is right now, the more value that the rest of the residents can get out of it that live in the city,” Kerr said.

Residents can volunteer via sending an email to Kerr at moss1holt2@yahoo.com, and/or Kelly at jeffkelly4321@yahoo.com.

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