The city of Bexley is sending out a survey this week to determine residents' interest in creating a "village," or social and support-services network for those age 50 and older.
Tentatively called Vibrant Village East, the organization would serve the people of the 43209 ZIP code, which includes Bexley and the Berwick and Eastmoor neighborhoods of Columbus.
Spearheaded by Bexley City Councilwoman Mary Gottesman, the fee-based program would provide a social outlet, as well as transportation and other services, for the area's aging population.
"Our mayor has committed to offering partial or full funding for people who can't afford the fee," which has yet to be determined, Gottesman said.
The survey, which is being done in collaboration with the Bexley Community Health Action Team, or CHAT, will be sent out with the city's water bills, posted online at bexley.org and available at the Bexley Public Library.
The 2016 population estimate for 43209 is 28,412 with 33 percent age 50 and older, or about 7,000 people, Gottesman said.
Participants are asked to return hard copies by the first week of August to Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.
Residents will be asked questions such as how important it is for them to remain in their homes as they age and how they could feel more connected with the community.
Meanwhile, focus groups will be held this summer "to get in-depth and personalized information," Gottesman said.
She said she would like to have Vibrant Village East up and running within the next year.
There is reason to believe there is a need for a village concept in Bexley, Gottesman said.
She said 80 seniors, responding to a question sent in previous water and garbage-collection bills, said they would like help with household chores. Another 30 responded they would volunteer for such services, she said.
Villages are usually nonprofit groups run largely by volunteers to help serve those who would like to remain in their houses and communities while they age.
In recent years, such groups have shied away from describing themselves as senior-oriented organizations because they want to attract younger customers who might like a social outlet or help with simple things, such as light household work or transportation to the grocery store.
There are now three villages in Franklin County: Village Connections in German Village, Village in the Ville in Clintonville and At Home by High, serving the University District and adjacent neighborhoods.
Village Connections, established in 2014 and the first village in central Ohio, is helping to create Vibrant Village East.
Kristen Schweitzer, executive director of Village Connections, said she's optimistic that Bexley residents, social-service agencies and businesses will provide a solid foundation for the proposed village.
"I think they're in a good place," she said. "One of the challenges would be reaching to those other neighborhoods."