Commonwealth Journal

News Live

May 3, 2014

Somerset opens new park on Bourne

Somerset — Spring is a time of new growth. On Saturday, the City of Somerset celebrated its own form of regrowth with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bourne Park, located at the intersection of Bourne Avenue and Marydale Avenue.

A covered sitting and picnic area, fountains, and expanse of lush green grass have replaced what was once considered a blighted area of the city — a number of dilapidated apartments, in which activities such as drug activity took place.

“This (the park) has really aesthetically improved downtown,” said Brian Jaggers, administrator of Somerwoods Nursing Home, which is located just across Bourne Avenue from the new park. “It was in dire need of a facelift, and what an improvement it is.”

Dr. Jerry Weigel, who cut the ceremonial ribbon on Saturday amongst city officials, said the park caps off a more than 50-year history of an area that failed to truly thrive.

Weigel pointed out that the ground where Bourne Park now sits used to be a series of doctors’ offices — located close to what was once Somerset City Hospital, which is what Somerwoods is now.

“It wasn’t exactly a thriving area, but it was a functioning area,” said Weigel. “ ... To see the (makeover) of the whole thing ... it’s just absolutely marvelous.”

Somerset City Council more than a year ago moved to purchase the abandoned Marydale Apartments. Soon after, the structure was demolished, and construction on the park began.

“1,000 people work within a thousand feet of this place,” said Jaggers.

The park will no doubt provide 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.

And along with that are the many residences that are within walking distance of the park.

“I think it’s just a beautiful little park we’ve built,” said Councilor Pat Bourne, who laughed that the park’s name was simply a result of it being located on Bourne Avenue. “I think it will be used by a lot of people here.”

Jerry Dixon, father of Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese, volunteered to design the park. Dixon said Bourne Park is just one of several parks that will be part of a mapped route in which runners and walkers can follow their distance — and rest at the small grassy areas along the way.

“We’re developing a system that people will know the distance between one (park) and another,” said Dixon.

Dixon didn’t charge anything for his work.

“I found the opportunity and I enjoyed the dickens out of it,” said Dixon, with a laugh.

Dennis Crist, with the city’s planning and zoning department, also worked to construct the park.

“We’re so happy to have the city taking pride in downtown,” said Jaggers.

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