Bexley State of the Community: City, library continue to adapt services to pandemic in 2021
During the 2021 Bexley State of the Community Address held Feb. 18 virtually at bexley.org, leaders of city government, schools and community organizations detailed efforts to maintain safety during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic while continuing to deliver services.
Last spring, a local COVID-19 Task Force was formed, consisting of city and county public health experts to monitor the pandemic and issue recommendations on how to respond.
Last summer, Mayor Ben Kessler issued an executive order requiring employees and customers to wear masks at indoor establishments and began working with the nonprofit Developmental Resources Assets Network (DARN) to address community needs.
“Via the CARES Act, Bexley has been able to distribute over $300,000 to businesses and families who have been impacted by COVID,” said Lori Ann Feibel, City Council president.
Also in response to the pandemic, a citywide ban on plastic bags that began in January 2020 was suspended before resuming in January 2021.
The city plans to expand its environmental initiatives throughout the year by implementing a local electricity aggregation program that will give residents the ability to receive electricity from renewable energy sources, Kessler said, adding the city also will expand recycling options this year.
“We’ll be working to expand recycling service to every business and in every apartment complex, so no matter where you live or work, you'll have access for recycling,” Kessler said.
Bexley will continue social-justice initiatives and efforts to increase communication between police and the community, Kessler said. Those efforts included distributing body cameras to every officer in 2020 and creating a five-member citizens review board to review complaints against city employees.
The $3.25 million expansion of Jeffrey Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave., is scheduled to be completed this spring, Kessler said.
“We thank the Bexley Community Foundation for the $1.75 million gift, allowing us to dream really big and make this amazing improvement to the Jeffrey Mansion facility for a Wantagh construction on a 100-year-old building,” he said.
Ben Heckman, director of the Bexley Public Library, said after suspending in-person services in March 2020, the library transferred programming online at bexleylibrary.org.
The library implemented online panel discussions, homework help and other virtual services, expanded its wireless internet offerings so patrons could log on in the library’s parking lot and introduced curbside pickup and home delivery.
The library postponed the Bexley Community Author Series last year and will hold a virtual event featuring Susan Orlean on April 27. The Ohio native will discuss her latest work, “The Library Book,” about how libraries contribute to their communities.
The library’s program guide will be distributed in early March when the building is scheduled to reopen for limited browsing, Heckman said.
“We’ll be letting people in, encouraging them to be here for 30 minutes, browse our collection,” he said. “We want to welcome you back in that capacity.”
Also presenting updates during the were representatives the Bexley City Schools, Columbus School for Girls, St. Charles Preparatory School, Capital University, the Bexley Community Foundation and the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce.