Architect David King told Bexley City Council Nov. 13 that it would be feasible to convert the current police station into space for public meetings.
"What Brian (Horne) and I were trying to discover is, will it work," King reported. "The answer is ‘yes.’"
King presented preliminary sketches of possible uses of space within the station behind city hall.
The construction of a 19,000 square-foot station on the north end of the city hall site, and the renovation of the existing 5,500 square-foot station, are among the options being considered.
Using that site for the police station would entail moving the service department, and city officials are engaged in studying possible locations for that operation, as well.
King envisions using the area now occupied by police detectives (which once served as a vehicle bay for the fire department) as council chambers, which he said could comfortably seat 40.
This room would also provide ground floor accessibility for handicapped residents. The current council chambers are on the second floor of city hall, and there is no elevator or chair lift.
King pointed out that the need for such accessibility was demonstrated by the city’s decision to hold that night’s meeting in the Bexley Library auditorium.
The renovated building could also provide ground-floor access to the building and utilities department, the architect said.
A conference room, adjacent to the proposed council chambers, could be used for closed-door sessions, King suggested.
The police station lobby could be converted into a plaza and patio space that would lead to the new police station, he added.
Councilman Jeff McClelland questioned whether they needed a chamber that seats 40 for their usually lightly attended meetings.
Mayor David Madison noted that the room is packed when it is used for mayor’s court. And some public hearings do draw a larger audience.
Councilman John Rohyans suggested that the conference room could be used for smaller gatherings.
Removing the firing range from the building would add about 17 parking spaces on the lot, King said. He did not have a cost estimate on cleaning up the range from lead contamination.
While officials had been leaning toward keeping the new police station on the Main Street site, there appears to be renewed interest in finding an alternative location and retaining the land for commercial development.
Mayor-elect John Brennan, who takes office Jan. 1, has expressed a preference for finding another location for the police station.
Delmar Avenue, on the city’s north side, has been mentioned as one option. A letter from residents offering their building on that street for sale was read to council, and the mayor said he would be meeting with the property owners.
The city also had been negotiating for property to relocate the service department at Fifth and Cassady avenues, but recently shifted its focus to Sheridan Avenue as a more likely spot.
One project that is nearing completion is receiving statewide recognition.
The City of Bexley and Larry Ruben, owner of Plaza Properties, have received the Infill Project of the Year award from the Ohio Planning Conference for the Gateway North project at Main Street and Parkview Avenue.
The $20 million development includes restaurant and office space, as well as soon-to-be-completed condominiums and townhouses. The Rusty Bucket and Mozart’s are two eateries that have already moved in.
It replaced a funeral home and residential properties.
"I was always told, with money you get honey," commented Ruben, who accepted the award along with his wife, Samantha, Mayor Madison and Bexley Economic Development Director Bruce Langner. "This helps to put our great little village on the map."
With the completion of Gateway North, Ruben will be turning his attention to the Gateway South project across the street.