The new Schneider Park athletics fields in southwest Bexley originally were set to open this fall.
That opening will now be delayed until next spring to allow more time for grass to grow in fully, according to the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department.
"The grass is not coming in as well as we'd like, but we're still plugging away at it and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be ready for the spring," department director Michael Price said during the Aug. 1 meeting of the city's recreation board at Bexley City Hall.
The Schneider Park athletic fields are located in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood off East Livingston Avenue. The project was facilitated with $100,000 from the city's Recreation Fund, an $81,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and an $81,000 grant from the Bexley Community Foundation. The city of Bexley also paid $290,000 from the Recreation Fund last fall to abate environmental hazards from the site's former use as a landfill.
One aspect of the Schneider Park athletic fields project that is on track to be completed this fall is the installation of a playground, thanks to a $65,000 donation from the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, Price said.
Price said the recreation department has ordered the playground equipment and plans to involve the community in the installation.
"That portion of the project will probably take place in September, and maybe late September, depending on when that equipment comes in," he said.
Once the athletic fields are ready to open next year, the city plans to hold a grand-opening ceremony, Price said.
He said the Bexley Celebrations and Events Team has also discussed the possibility of hosting one of the Main Event summer entertainment dates at the Schneider Park athletic fields in the future.
"That will be the true test of what the power of this park will be, which is to connect our community with everyone," Price said. "We encourage all of our community to come to the neighborhood and be involved in the experience."
Recreation Board member Mike Denison, who is also a Bexley City Schools District Board of Education member, said the athletic fields' opening will offer an opportunity for residents who have never visited the Ferndale/Mayfield neighborhood to see improvements in the area firsthand.
"How transformed that area will be will be a welcome surprise," Denison said. "I'm sure a lot of people have never been down there. It will give people a reason to go down there and see what changes are taking place out there."