Bexley City Council members spent their first meeting of the new year addressing an old issue -- environmental contamination in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place area in southwest Bexley.

Having received the results of the latest environmental study of the area, the city is exploring if and how to notify property owners of those results, Mayor Ben Kessler said at the Jan. 9 session.

The city is developing the Schneider Park athletics fields in the area. A previous study indicated contamination from the site's former use as a landfill, and council last fall authorized a $290,000 expenditure from the city's Recreation Fund to remediate the contamination.

Kessler said the latest study, received at end of December, indicated elevated levels of lead and arsenic, similar to what was found in the previous study of the area.

"We took borings down to 10 feet in 16 different sites throughout the city right of way ... including city right of way that extends along Alum Creek to the west of Mayfield Place," he said.

Kessler and city attorney Marc Fishel said Bexley is working with an attorney who specializes in environmental law to assess whether the city has any legal obligation to notify property owners of the study's results.

"Based on the information we have currently, there are no known (health) risks to people who are continuing to live there at this point," Fishel said.

"However, as the mayor said, we are going to figure out how to get all the information to both the landowners and the tenants and the residents and move forward with additional risk assessments to find out everything we can," he said.

In other business Jan. 9, newly elected council President Lori Ann Feibel announced new committee assignments for council members.

Monique Lampke, the newest council member after being elected in November, is chairwoman of the safety and health committee. The other committee assignments are as follows: Mary Gottesman, strategic; Steve Keyes, finance; Tim Madison, zoning and judiciary; Troy Markham, service; Richard Sharp, recreation and parks.

Feibel said she also plans to implement several changes designed to make council meetings run more efficiently.

Those changes include limiting presentations by invited guests who address council to five minutes unless they're speaking about an issue that directly affects council business, and limiting public comment to three minutes.

The public will still be permitted to comment and ask questions throughout council meetings, but council members will not directly respond to the issues they raise, Feibel said.

"We are going to say, 'Thank you for your comment.' We're not going to debate," she said.

Feibel also proposed electing a president pro tempore to serve in her absence and suggested council members further discuss the issue at their next meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.

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