Work has begun on a new gateway entrance to Bexley at Main and Gould streets.

Work has begun on a new gateway entrance to Bexley at Main and Gould streets.

The Bexley Tree and Public Gardens Commission is nearing completion of a 10-year project to enhance the community's gateway entrances.

The commission received a $7,500 grant from the Columbus Foundation's Joseph A. Jeffrey Fund for new pillars at Main and Gould streets.

"The Jeffrey endowment fund has been very gracious to us over the years," said commission member Susan Quintenz. "We are very excited."

The commission also received Columbus Foundation grants for improving lighting and adding trees on Drexel Circle and another $7,500 grant for the gateway at Livingston and College avenues, she said.

Creating the Main-Gould gateway is a three-phase project. The first phase was installation of the pillars. The second phase includes upgrading the street lighting and traffic signals with decorative poles. The third phase is adding low retaining walls in the right-of-way on the north and south sides of Main Street, Quintenz said.

The pillars are in and installation of the traffic signals will begin later this year, Quintenz said. The third phase should take place sometime in 2012.

"I think that we will have addressed all the gateways that were on the master plan that was developed a decade ago," she said. "There are additional gateways that we could add. There is always potential."

Quintenz said the commission received a Bexley Heritage Fund grant a decade ago for a gateway master plan. While Bexley City Council endorsed the plan, there were never any city funds available for the gateway improvements.

"Much of the money has come from the private sector, so it has taken a little longer to get done," Quintenz said.

Since there was some continuity in commission membership and consistent leadership from landscape and architecture firms, most of the gateways have a uniform look, she said.

"I think we have been able to deliver a plan that looks like it was installed all at one time even though it was installed piece by piece over 10 years," she said.

Quintenz said the gateway project would not have been successful without the support of the community, private dollars and the city of Bexley.

"Without community participation and (donors) like the Rotary Club of Whitehall-Bexley and the Jeffrey Foundation, we would be sitting with a pretty plan and no installation," she said.

The Gateways help identify the city of Bexley by reflecting the historical nature of the community "It (gives) people a chance to recognize when they (are) entering a unique historical and special urban city," she said.

Economic development director Bruce Langner said the commission has created some nice entries into Bexley.

"Everybody is pleased with how the gateways look," he said. "The work started before I started here. They had a couple of them done fairly early."

In addition to the Main-Gould gateway, Quintenz said the commission hopes to complete a project enhancing the end caps throughout the city. Gateway features have already been installed in medians at Bryden and Drexel, Bexley Park and Drexel, Fair and Drexel and Fair and Gould, she said.

The goal is to add the end caps at Bryden and Gould and Bexley Park and Gould, Quintenz said. Installing end caps involves adding landscaping, improving signage and adding features like retaining walls and brick pavers.

This summer Bexley will once again participate in the American in Bloom competition. The program allows visiting judges to review planting materials, design and the overall look of the community, Quintenz said. Judges offer constructive criticism about how to improve the community through plant material and meet with city officials and community representatives.

The commission will also complete a tree planting project in south Bexley on Pleasant Ridge Drive near Mound Street this year. The group will select trees to plant in the right of way.

The project is also funded by private donations. A total of 41 trees were planted last year and organizers expect to plant about that many more by fall.

The commission will also participate in a community clean-up on April 9, from 9 a.m. to noon. There will be free disposal of everything from metal to computers and free paper shredding. The event is being held in partnership with the city of Bexley.

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