Commonwealth Journal

June 21, 2013

City to celebrate grand opening of park at The Neighborhood today

By HEATHER TOMLINSON, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Local senior citizens will soon have a few more options to help stay active and healthy. 
Today, the City of Somerset will officially celebrate the grand opening of a small outdoor exercise and community park, located at The Neighborhood Assisted Living Facility off Grand Central Boulevard. 
“This is a city park,” said Dennis Crist, head of zoning and planning for the city. “We just happened to put it where there is a large influx of seniors.”
The small outdoor park area will be the first of several for the city in what Crist is deeming a partnership between the city and the private sector to bring more healthful options to the table for city residents. 
“It’ll be run just like a city park,” said Crist. “ ... We want to get people out exercising more.” 
The park at The Neighborhood features at least five pieces of low-impact exercise equipment that would be perfect for physical exercise or a physical therapy session. 
And Crist said the city is working with R-Tec to help provide transportation to seniors living within the city limits at no cost to them. 
Today’s ceremony kicks off the city’s move to bring at least two more similar parks to its residents — including to the Bourne Avenue area, where no fewer than three assisted living facilities are located.
The city has already begun work on a small park located where the Marydale Apartments once stood on Bourne Avenue. The building was torn down in May 2012, and had been the scene of at least one methamphetamine lab explosion that sent one tenant to the hospital with severe burns. 
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler updated the councilors during the Monday, June 10 Somerset City Council meeting, and told those in attendance that the Marydale plan should be completed in about 30 days.
That park would be in addition to an exercise area, located in the same area, according to Crist. 
The city’s efforts have been commended by those working at Somerwoods Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Cumberland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and The Highlands Assisted Living Facility, all three of which are located nearby. 
“The (Marydale) park is a really terrific idea,” said Jill Spurgeon, administrator for Cumberland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located on Norfleet Drive, during a March meeting. “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. 
The Marydale project would affect as many as 400 assisted living patients and 300 workers in a two-block area, according to Crist. 
“This is what happens when you have government agencies partnering with the private sector,” said Crist.
City councilors have likewise thrown their support behind the park efforts.
“I think that’s something great we can do with any of our seniors,” said Councilor Jerry Burnett during the June 10 meeting, about the park at The Neighborhood. 
The Neighborhood and Marydale parks join a newly-completed community park in the Huffaker area, which had its own grand opening ceremony on Saturday, June 16. 
Crist said the city may even be one of the only municipalities in the state to engage in such an effort, according to information given to him from the League of Cities. 
Today’s ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the new community park, located on the site of The Neighborhoods complex, which is behind the Grand Central shopping center. Food and drinks will be provided.