With goals of promoting economic development, enhancing safety and walkability and providing more recreational amenities, early draft concepts of the Southwest Bexley Master Plan Update are being considered.

During a Jan. 25 public workshop at Bexley City Hall, residents received a look at the concepts and offered feedback. Mayor Ben Kessler, several city council members and about 40 residents discussed issues such as improving the East Livingston Avenue gateway, redeveloping the Ferndale Place/Mayfield neighborhood and finding more parking on East Main Street.

Representatives from NBBJ, the firm that the city hired to oversee the planning process, presented a list of needs and goals for southwest Bexley that was compiled from suggestions that residents offered during previous public workshops held at City Hall last fall.

Much of last week's discussion centered on how to revitalize the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood. Promoting redevelopment is a challenge because of lingering environmental issues from when the area was a landfill in the mid-20th century, Kessler said.

However, the city is proceeding with a variety of efforts to stabilize the area, he added, including a program implemented in 2015 that enables the city to buy rental properties when they go up for sale, refurbish and resell them.

"Affordable housing needs to be both safe and clean," Kessler said. "Right now we have affordable housing that's not particularly safe."

Ideas to improve the city's southwest corridor include adding a much-needed amenity such as a medical facility on East Livingston Avenue.

"We think that could be an incredible gateway into the city," said Kim Way, NBBJ's director of Urban Design and Planning.

Other ideas proposed include adding a bike trail to improve connectivity between the city's southwest quadrant and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, 1125 College Ave. Residents also discussed enhancing the greenspace on Capital University's front lawn at College Avenue and East Main Street or using the area to build a parking structure that could be shared by the university and the public.

Councilwoman Lori Ann Feibel, who serves as vice chairwoman of the Southwest Bexley Master Plan Update Committee, said committee members will review the proposed ideas as their work continues throughout the year.

"We'll go back to the steering committee and evaluate what the public input has been and fine-tune the plan," she said.

The next public workshop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 29 at a location that will be announced. For more information, visit Bexley.org /swbmp.

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