With the completion of the Schneider Park athletic fields and the demolition of two environmentally contaminated rental properties, the city of Bexley is moving forward with plans to revitalize the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood in southwest Bexley.

"We're taking a more proactive approach than other cities with similar environmentally-impacted areas," Mayor Ben Kessler said.

Kessler announced at Bexley City Council's June 9 meeting the city has contracted with the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation to demolish two properties the Bexley Community Improvement Corporation owns at 941 Ferndale Place and 945 Ferndale Place.

"It's on top of a former landfill," Kessler said. "We've tested the site and found that it's not safe for human habitation as determined by our environmental standards."

Kessler said the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation is taking on the cost of the demolition. The Bexley CIC acquired the properties through a program in which the CIC purchases properties in the area as private owners put them up for sale, with the goal of rehabilitating the properties and reselling them to private owners.

Kessler said the CIC would continue to acquire properties as they become available.

Testing on eight properties not owned by the CIC that was conducted earlier this year indicates similar environmental contamination, he said.

"The next step is to work with the Franklin County board of health to go to the nine remaining parcels that have not been tested," Kessler said.

"My instinct continues to be that the remaining nine parcels are contaminated similar to the other parcels."

Kessler said the city worked with a consultant last year to relocate the tenants in the two city-owned properties so demolition could proceed. One tenant qualified for a city of Bexley program to receive rent subsidies to remain in Bexley, at a cost to the city of about $175 a month, or $2,000 to date, and a total not to exceed $10,000 for the life of the program, Kessler said.

He said the city's long-term goal is to attract a developer that can redevelop the Ferndale/Mayfield area once the CIC has acquired enough properties that could provide enough land to form a housing complex.

"My commitment is to continue to provide affordable-housing options," Kessler said. "We're also so we're interested in mixed-income housing, so we're not sequestering affordable housing in one area."

Kessler said the opening of the Schneider Park athletics fields this summer after environmental remediation last year is also part of the city's Ferndale/Mayfield revitalization plan. Recreation director Michael Price said the fields are scheduled to officially open in late summer or early fall.

"We do still intend to have a grand-opening ceremony, which will hopefully be a large community event," Price said, "but we are holding off until the current health situation allows for such an event."

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