Commonwealth Journal

March 14, 2013

Somerset transforms eyesore into community park

By HEATHER TOMLINSON, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

What used to be an eyesore for the city will soon be a community park.
Somerset City Council during a Monday work session discussed plans to convert the land where the Marydale Apartments once stood on Bourne Avenue into a small community park.
Councilors heartily approved Monday the tentative plans for the small park, which would have benches and possibly a small fountain. 
The park will be an about-face from what the area used to be like. The apartments that once stood there, which were torn down in May 2012, were the scene of at least on methamphetamine lab explosion that sent one tenant to the hospital with severe burns. The explosion, which occurred in 2006, damaged the building, and it remained vacant up to its demolition. 
“The day that was torn down received great applause from the facility and our residents,” said Brian Jaggers, administrator for Somerwoods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Somerwoods is located directly across from the Marydale area. Jaggers and several others from the nearby nursing facilities appeared during Monday’s regular-called council meeting to voice their support of the park.
“The park is a really terrific idea,” said Jill Spurgeon, administrator for Cumberland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located on Norfleet Drive near Somerwoods. “It’s not far from our facility. We can take them (residents) over there, they can relax and do things that they want to, it’d be great.”
Bubbles Girdler, also with Cumberland, agreed.
“It would be such a good thing for our patients to go over there and be able to enjoy the sunshine,” she said. 
Aside from the area’s nursing facilities, which also include The Highlands Assisted Living facility, located on Norfleet Drive, several companies are located within walking distance of what will be the park.
Southern Belle Dairy and the Pulaski County health Department are two such businesses located in the area.
“It’s a great asset to the neighborhood,” said Jaggers.
Councilor John Ricky Minton asked that the city look into building more small park areas.
“We can do something to help the people and the kids,” said Minton. “ ... If we’re going to sell alcohol, let’s do something with that money to help the people.”
City councilors also discussed creating a type of walking or running plan that would include the Marydale and any other parks as rest areas, or areas to measure distances traveled by runners and walkers. 
“We want to help every neighborhood, that’s the goal of the council,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. 
In other news from Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting:
• Councilor Jerry Wheeldon asked that the city make a small drainage system on Main Street, at an area where water tends to stand in the roadway. Girdler said they would look into it. 
• Councilor Jimmy Eastham said he’d been told about some potholes in the city and noted he’d turned the trouble spots in to the city’s road department. 
 “I think this time of year that’s a pretty common thing,” said Jimmy Eastham. 
• Minton asked that the city level out a “bumpy” area at the intersection of North Maple Street and oak Street.
“It’s pretty rough and something needs to be done,” Minton said. Girdler said they would look into the issue.