Having lived in Bexley for 10 years or so, my family and I are newcomers by local standards.

To the editor:

Having lived in Bexley for 10 years or so, my family and I are newcomers by local standards.

We have been here long enough, though, to refer to homes by the names of past owners, to have favorite streets and houses and have spent memorable times in the homes of friends and acquaintances. These places are part of our family's and our community's heritage.

This is not just a goofy, romantic ideal but a tangible asset. What might have passed elsewhere as a tear-down is someone's restored Mid-Century Modern, Craftsman bungalow or Dutch Colonial. Nearly all 20th Century American house styles are represented in our community. Our homes have beauty, variety and detail. They don't build them like this anymore.

Do our homes define Bexley? I would say, yes they do, as much as our lovely trees and parks define us, as our strong community values to respect others, the importance we place on education, civic engagement and the richness diversity brings to us.

Many of us spend quite a bit of time and often a great deal of money maintaining our homes. Is this necessarily the most practical investment, spending money on a home built in 1918? Not for everyone. New communities offer homes with amenities some may consider essential but which are not common in a Bexley house.

Perhaps our community needs to have a conversation about what our old homes mean to Bexley. Do private property rights trump community values? What are our standards relevant to the local architecture? How much value does the character of our homes and businesses add to the value of our properties? Ultimately, do we want protections for an old house, an old theater, an old drugstore? Do we want or need clearer design guidelines? What changes are acceptable to our community?

The Ohio Historical Society and the National Historic Trust have programs for communities like ours to talk about new versus old. Bexley also has residents who are architects, historic preservation professionals, developers and homeowners. Columbus has historic neighborhoods and new ones we can look to for ideas.

It is my hope that our community will continue to value and protect our community's architecture. Think of it as protecting our investments and our heritage. And I ask that people who initiate the process to demolish a home understand that the process allows people to chime in with their concerns. It is not personal, it is preservation.

Did anyone important live here? Well to me the answer is clear: Yes, we did.

Janet Helgeson