Main Street Guidelines group to review streetscape options
Members of Bexley's newly formed Main Street Guidelines Committee are ready to get started on improving the appearance of the city's most identifiable business corridor.
Committee member Susan Quintenz said the group is eager to identify potential streetscape improvement projects.
"The impetus is that TIF (tax increment financing) funds are coming online," she said. "The committee will develop a plan and help prioritize the needs and uses for those funds."
Bexley City Councilman Ben Kessler said the committee's main objective is to determine how to spend the $70,000 to $80,000 generated annually by the Main Street TIF.
The committee includes representatives of a number of groups including the planning commission, Land Use Strategy Commission, Tree and Public Gardens Commission, Capital University, the Bexley Public Library, Bexley City Council, a Main Street business owner and development director Bruce Langner.
Members refer to the committee as Main Street Guidelines Committee part 2. It's an extension of a group that met a decade ago to look at Main Street architectural and design standards.
That committee recommended streetscape improvements, Kessler said.
Quintenz said the new group started meeting in September to analyze Main Street and its different institutions and uses, including retail, office and service.
The Main Street Guidelines Commission is divided into four subgroups. One has been looking at Main Street from Pump House Park to Dawson, one from Dawson to Pleasant Ridge Drive and Remington and another from Remington to Gould. A fourth group has been looking at the common streetscape elements on Main Street, she said.
The group working on Main Street from Remington to Gould left surveys with a number of people in the area and shared the results with the committee at the March 14 Main Street meeting, Quintenz said.
She said the committee would like to implement streetscape elements that create a physical sense of place and promote pedestrian character on Main Street.
Committee member Larry Helman said Main Street is the heart of Bexley. People like to walk up and down Main Street and walk to Main Street businesses from their homes.
"It is part of a lifestyle that makes Bexley a special place," he said. "You can live in a great house and still walk to theater, restaurants, the drug store"
Committee members hope to improve the pedestrian quality of the street, safety and its economic viability, Helman said.
"If we achieve those things we will continue to add to not only the appreciation of Bexley for those here but continue its' appeal as a distinct lifestyle," he said.
Members will need to determine how pedestrians can coexist with the automobile and ways to connect the north and south side of the street together from a pedestrian standpoint, Helman said.
The committee will also look at lingering space on Main Street - the right places to put benches or outside dining, etc., Helman said.
"What are those opportunities to tie into what we already have there and make it a more special gathering place," he said.
The group also will work to determine how to attract both Bexley residents and others to Main Street and create centers of energy like Drexel and Guiseppe's Ritrovo and the Bexley Public Library, Cup O' Joe and Starbucks, Quintenz said.
"How do you take that energy and radiate it into the entire East Main Street," she said.
The goals of the new commission dovetail with some of the recommendations for the Strategic Land Use Commission, Kessler said. Those were presented to council on Jan. 25.
The land-use recommendations included promoting community events through signage to create synergy when there are special events occurring at Capital University or through the Bexley Art Walk and Bexley Farmers Market, Kessler said.
"It lets people know what is going on in the city," he said. "That would be a streetscape improvement."