A new facility that opened at 420 N. Cassady Ave. fills a long-standing need for space dedicated to recreation programs for older adults and youth, according to city officials.
Community members and representatives from the town and the Bexley Community Foundation gathered on February 13 for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center which will serve as a two-year pilot program and temporary recreation center.
“It’s a long time coming. We were very excited about this milestone and will continue to expand and improve services for seniors,” said recreation director Michael Price. goal of having a senior-centric space is something our seniors have been advocating for for several years.”
The facility was once the site of Art with Anna. The Bexley Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), the city’s nonprofit development arm, owns the property and is working with The Community Builders, a Columbus-based nonprofit affordable housing developer, on a plan to term to redevelop the site into a mix-use residential and commercial facilities. CIC is awaiting notification from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency whether its application has been approved for state funding.
While CIC has identified sources of funding for the proposed mixed-use development and is moving forward with planning, which is expected to take at least two years, the city will use the existing facility to assess community needs in recreational programs for seniors and youth, said Mayor Ben Kessler.
“It started in the halls of the town council, many years ago, where we put money aside to study the idea of a center for the elderly, and we committed ourselves to (the community) to find a space,” Kessler said. “I am well aware of the fact that by testing this space, you are investing in the idea (of a senior centre).”
The Bexley Community Foundation has provided a $30,000 grant to the town to develop the site into a temporary recreation center, said Preston Elliott, chairman of the foundation’s board.
“We know there is a lot of excitement around this project,” Elliott said. “We know (community members) will make great use of the space, you’ll nurture it and come back with bigger ideas so we can do something better in a few years.”
Price said the Department of Recreation and Parks used the foundation grant to purchase equipment and supplies, including a television, projector, sound system, furniture, tables and chairs, kitchenette, table tennis, games and other activities. The center will organize a variety of activities, including art classes, book clubs, euchre club and exercise classes.
“We’ll also have bigger events for seniors in space, like movie nights, small concerts, and watch parties like the Super Bowl,” Price said.
Annual membership for Bexley residents is $20 per person and $30 per couple. For non-residents, the fee is $35 for individuals and $45 per couple.
Membership includes $5 off most 55+ activities, access to the center during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), building rental after hours for private events and a weekly email. For more information, visit bexley.org/recreation or call (614) 559-4300.