Somerset —One of the most blighted spots in Somerset has evolved into sparkling neighborhood park getting raves from nearby residents. Bourne Park is now green space centered with newly developed park facilities. It replaces dilapidated Marydale Apartments in a half block of clustered buildings that formerly housed a restaurant and doctor’s office. All the structures had deteriorated into a neighborhood eyesore. The park’s location is on a point of land created by Marydale Avenue exiting off Bourne Avenue in a westerly direction as Bourne Avenue turns southwesterly at the intersection. “The city bought the property for $50,000,” said Dennis Crist, special projects director for Somerset. “We’ve got about $150,000, including the purchase price, in this park and just look what we’ve got!” he exclaimed. “The neighbors love it,” said Crist. He invited a reporter to drop by as he took Allene Ramsey on a tour of the still-developing facility that officially opened last month. “I’m so proud of this,” said Ramsey, wife of the late Dr. Barton Ramsey, a Somerset obstetrician who died of a massive heart attack in 1969 after delivering a baby at the former Somerset City Hospital. Mrs. Ramsey still lives in the same house she and Dr. Ramsey built at 509 Bourne Avenue when they came to Somerset in 1950. She is a native of Wayne County and taught school there while her husband was in medical school. “I love this park,” Mrs. Ramsey said. She admits to still being upset about a home invasion involving a person she said was a resident of the apartments who came across the street, entered a window at her house and stole her purse. Razing the three-story Marydale Apartment building relieved a trouble spot. “I checked back 20 years and there were 360 police calls to this location,” said Crist. “Parks improve neighborhoods,” insisted Crist. He same many residents nearby to Bourne Park have spruced up their properties since the park opened. Many others are thankful the run-down apartment structure is gone, he added. The park closes at 10 p.m. each day, but the lights stay on, Crist noted. Complaints from several members of Somerset City Council were triggers for the city to condemn the property that once was viable when the city owned and operated Somerset City Hospital across the street at 525 Bourne Avenue. During the 1970s, the city, under Mayor Jesse Wilson, decided to get out of the hospital business. Somerset City Hospital closed in May 1976 and the building is now occupied by Somerwoods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Humana, the giant health insurance firm, built a hospital that opened in 1976 at the location of Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital. Reportedly, about 1,000 people live and work in the vicinity of the new Bourne Park. It provides an outdoor space for the residents and workers of Somerwoods, along with nearby Cumberland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Highlands Assisted Living Facility. Southern Belle Dairy and the Pulaski County Health Department are also located in the area. “When you put parks in, it helps everybody,” said Crist. The city has been under a park building frenzy during the past decade. “Neighborhood parks are located where people can walk to the park,” said Crist. This park serves a lot of children who can’t afford to go to SomerSplash, the city’s water park off Highway 2227 north of Somerset, Crist added. Bill Mardis is the editor emeritus of the Commonwealth Journal. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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