At the final public workshop for updating the Jeffrey Mansion master plan, Mayor Ben Kessler and members of the plan's steering committee presented concepts and funding options for three proposed phases of the mansion's expansion.

Since April, the Jeffrey Mansion Master Plan Refresh Committee has been working with Columbus-based architectural firm Schooley Caldwell to update the 2008 Jeffrey Mansion master plan.

The expansion, which the city and the Bexley Community Foundation announced last year, will help accommodate more recreational programming, Kessler said.

"The mansion is at capacity; it's beyond at capacity," he said at the meeting held July 19 at Bexley City Hall.

"It is currently a roadblock to being able to program some of the activities and programs that (the Recreation and Parks Department) wants to accommodate. It also has the capacity to serve existing programs like our summer camp and preschool program better than it's currently doing," he said.

Kessler said the city has identified $2.25 million in funding for the first phase of the expansion, with $1 million pledged by the community foundation, $250,000 from the state of Ohio capital budget, and the remainder to come from city funds.

The first phase would include relocating the mansion's service garage to a new facility to be constructed on the grounds near Clifton Avenue to accommodate maintenance vehicles and equipment, creating a multipurpose space for recreation programming and community use, installing a single-occupant lift to take individuals with physical impairments from the first to the second floor, and reconfiguring the parking to add 17 new spaces on the mansion's north lot and 20 new spaces on the west lot.

The second phase is estimated to cost $1.9 million and include additional space for storage and instructional programs. The third phase is estimated to cost $1.5 million to $2 million and include the installation of an elevator and miscellaneous improvements such as enhancing lighting and upgrading maintenance equipment.

Kessler said the master plan calls for the second and third phases to be funded by grants and donations.

Several of the 20 people in attendance at the July 19 workshop advocated for installing an elevator in the first phase.

Bexley City Councilwoman Mary Gottesman said installing the elevator makes more sense because the plan call for the lift to be removed in the third phase once the elevator is installed.

"It's a city facility," Gottesman said. "I'm much more in favor of, let's put (the elevator) in there and let's make the mansion a welcome, accessible place for everyone."

Schooley Caldwell President and CEO Bob Loversidge said costs have dictated priorities, adding installing the lift would cost an estimated $80,000 and an elevator would cost $1.2 million.

Several residents expressed concerns that expanding Jeffrey Mansion would lead to an increase in rentals of the facility for parties, wedding receptions and other private events that would exacerbate parking problems and traffic congestion.

Natalie Mullin, deputy director of the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department, said staff members have discussed how to ensure private events have minimal impact on the neighborhood.

"We've talked about what kind of policy we put in place ... if we limit how many large events we can have, if we limit the time of day they can (begin and end)," she said.

Schooley Caldwell architect Tim Velazco said the Jeffrey Mansion Master Plan Refresh Committee will hold one last meeting to discuss residents' feedback gathered July 19 and may adjust the master plan accordingly. Once the committee agrees on a final version, the plan is scheduled to be submitted for final approval before Bexley City Council on Aug. 14 and the city's Recreation Board on Sept. 5.

If the plan is approved, Velazco said, targets would have the new service garage constructed in 2019 and the remainder of phase-one projects to be constructed in 2020.

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