Bexley in 2021: Livingston Avenue, environmental plans top agenda

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
Mayor Ben Kessler is shown outside Jeffrey Mansion on Dec. 18 as construction crews continue working on the renovation and expansion project, which is one of the city's priorities for this year.

The city of Bexley’s 2021 docket is filled with several new programs set to get underway as well expanding initiatives that began in 2020, according to Mayor Ben Kessler.  

Those efforts include working with the city of Columbus to enhance safety along the East Livingston Avenue corridor, completing the Jeffrey Mansion expansion, expanding environmental programs and launching a revamped website designed to make local government more accessible to residents. 

Implementing the Joint Livingston Avenue Plan, an effort with Columbus that was established in early 2020, is a top priority, Kessler said. The two cities are reviewing bids from firms to conduct studies on how to improve the area, he said. 

“What that would look like is a safety study for Livingston Avenue but also a development study and streetscape study so that we have a joint plan in order to take Livingston Avenue from where it is today – sort of a drive-by, vehicle-focused corridor – to one that is more community-serving, more pedestrian-focused, safer and better reflects the fabric of the Bexley and Berwick neighborhoods,” he said. 

The Jeffrey Mansion expansion began in 2020, funded by private donations spearheaded by the Bexley Community Foundation, state grants and city funds. Kessler said it is scheduled to be completed in early this year.   

“We’re really looking forward to that extra space,” he said. “We’re excited to be able to have larger space for community meetings and indoor recreational activities there. I think it’s going to bring a lot of value.”  

Kessler said he plans to work with City Council to update the city’s overall strategic plan to encompass the bicycle-safety plan that a work group completed in 2020 and the Bexley Zero Waste Plan, which contains long-term strategies to divert waste from landfills. Other environmental initiatives include expanding recycling to multi-family residences and businesses and implementing a ban on single-use plastics that originally began in January 2020, paused mid-year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and resumed Jan. 1 of this year. 

Bexley’s revamped website is scheduled to launch in 2021, designed to make public meetings and documents more accessible online. 

City meetings began being held remotely last March amid the pandemic.  

“We’ve increased the digital accessibility of our meetings, which, I think, has kind of been one of the small silver linings of this (pandemic) – the ability for residents to participate more easily from home,” Kessler said 

He said he is hoping that in-person events will eventually resume throughout 2021 as the coronavirus vaccine becomes more widespread. 

“One of the things that I'm looking forward to is, hopefully, a gradual return to normal …  a gradual return to community events, athletics, socializing in person with people,” he said. “As we see the vaccines roll out over the coming months, I think that we're going to slowly see a return to something like the old ‘normal’ and, hopefully, be able to retain some of the new tricks and skills that we learned over the past year.” 

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