Addressing environmental issues and providing recreational opportunities for residents who live in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood in southwest Bexley are still topics on the minds of Bexley City Council members, who are now setting priorities for the city's 2018 budget.

Council members held an Aug. 29 retreat at Bexley City Hall to begin their budget process.

Council members are tentatively scheduled to vote on the third and final reading of Ordinance 17-17 at their Sept. 12 meeting. The ordinance would transfer $290,000 from the city's Recreation Fund to develop athletic fields at Schneider Park in the Ferndale/Mayfield neighborhood. The cost of the proposed project increased from an initial estimate of $227,552 to $551,502 in order to remediate contamination from the site's former use as a landfill.

Whether or not council ultimately votes to proceed with developing the athletic fields, the city should allot funds in the 2018 budget to provide recreational programming for residents who live in the Ferndale/Mayfield area, said Deneese Owen, council's finance committee chairwoman.

She also proposed the city provide funds for council members to complete implicit bias training conducted by the Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

"I think it would be beneficial for all elected officials," Owen said. "Especially as we are looking at some pretty significant decisions for portions of the city that are economically and racially diverse, as compared to the rest of the city, I think it is good for everybody to go into it with eyes wide open."

Owen said she is in the process of compiling cost estimates for the implicit bias training.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ben Kessler said he will work with recreation director Michael Price to determine what programming the Recreation and Parks Department already provides that is used by Ferndale/Mayfield residents, and how existing programming could be expanded.

Kessler said the city is conducting additional environmental testing in the Ferndale/Mayfield area in the public right-of-way near the proposed site of the Schneider Park athletic fields, with results expected by the end of the year.

Kessler and council members discussed the best way to notify residents in the area if the results indicate contamination in the public right-of-way, even though the city has no legal authority to test for or remediate contamination on land belonging to private property owners in the area.

"It seems that the sense of council seems to be that if our land in the public right-of-way is contaminated that it's the proper thing to do to notify the residents," council President Tim Madison said.

Council's Sept. 12 meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.

Council's meeting schedule for discussing and finalizing the 2018 budget is as follows: Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m., Finance Committee meeting; Oct. 10 at 6 p.m., discussion of the mayor's draft budget and five- and 10-year financial projections; Oct. 24 at 6 p.m., first reading of the 2018 budget ordinance and presentations by Building and Zoning director Kathy Rose and Service Department director Bill Dorman; Nov. 14, second reading of the budget ordinance and presentations by Price and finance director Beecher Hale; third reading of the budget ordinance and presentations by police Chief Larry Rinehart and information technology manager Erik McGuinness; Dec. 12, vote on the 2018 budget.

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