With nearly a year in the city's top leadership position under his belt, Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler says 2013 could look a lot like 2012 -- at least from an operational standpoint.
"Maintaining top-notch police and safety services, infrastructure services, providing ample quality recreational opportunities, and preserving and enhancing Bexley's quality environment are at the core of our mission," Kessler said. "All that we're working toward in 2013 points back to and supports that mission."
In 2013, Kessler said he wants to focus on improving the Main Street business district through streetscape improvements.
"Plans for next year's Main Street streetscape project are being given the final touches," he said. "We'll be having a public meeting in January to give residents a preview of what's coming and as a follow-up to the public workshops that we held in 2011 and 2012."
Bexley residents can look forward to some new events that will bring people together this year.
"Movies on Main, a monthly outdoor movie series on Capital University's main lawn, will debut in 2013," Kessler said. "Family movies will be shown free of charge once a month, between May and September, under the stars and on Main Street. The series is a partnership, funded by the Bexley Community Foundation, between the city, Capital University and the Drexel Theatre."
"In July, the Ohio Chautauqua 2013 will be coming to Bexley with the theme 'When Ohio Was a Western Frontier,' " Kessler said. "A chautauqua offers living history presented by scholar-actors who assume the role of historical characters. The Ohio Chautauqua troupe of re-enactors (some of them student performers from the Ohio State University Department of Theater) travels to five communities across Ohio each summer to give a series of evening performances under big-top tents as well as workshops for both children and adults during the day."
Visit the website at ohiohumanities.org/ohio-chautauqua.html for more details. The Chautauqua is being brought to Bexley via a partnership of several stakeholders in the city, including Capital University, the Bexley Public Library, the city of Bexley and the Bexley Community Foundation.
Plans for City Hall site
"We've stepped up our efforts to locate a desirable, revenue-generating use for our City Hall site," Kessler said.
Bexley has long wanted to maximize the use of its land along Main Street.
Kessler said the city is in active discussions with developers and is working hard to find a good use that adequately funds the city's relocation of its service department away from the Main Street site and offers a plan for putting City Hall offices either on an upper-level floor of a building on the site or at an alternate location in Bexley.
"This certainly isn't a new project, but it's an ongoing project that has good inertia, and 2013 just might be the year that something comes together on the City Hall site," Kessler said.
Main Street and more
Kessler said Bexley's Main Street design guidelines provide development standards and aesthetic review standards for commercial uses on Main Street; now it's time to consider them for another key area of the city.
"We're looking to develop a set of standards for the commercial areas of Livingston Avenue and North Cassady Avenue, building off of the Main Street design guidelines and developing an easily implemented iteration for Livingston and Cassady," he said.
Items of a financial and service nature also will be a priority.
The city's revenue includes a variety of service fees and fines, including water, sewer and trash bills, building department permits, Mayor's Court fines and recreation programming fees.
"Currently, recreation programming is the only portion of this that offers online payment options," Kessler said. "We'll be working on providing online payment options for all of these programs in 2013."
Kessler said the city's 2013 budget is the first post-estate tax balanced budget.
"We'll be working carefully to make sure we live within budget parameters and to continue to hone our financial picture while maintaining first-rate city services," he said.
The Southwest Bexley Master Plan also will be a topic of discussion this year.
"The city has been discussing the need for a modernized Southwest Bexley Master Plan with Capital University and Trinity Seminary," Kessler said. "Ten years after the adoption of the last Southwest Bexley Master Plan, it's time to review the plan and renew our common vision for thriving educational institutions and the preservation of a strong neighborhood fabric in Bexley."
Kessler said that in late February, the city administration and major stakeholders in the city will come together to review 2012 and update the community on what's to come in 2013 and beyond in the first cooperative State of the Community Address.
Leading up to that, the city will provide a complete set of goals and strategic priorities for 2013.