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Communitywide Wi-Fi an option in Thiensville

Panel floats idea as possible way to boost business corridor

Jan. 29, 2013

Thiensville - Business owners and other interested residents gathered Monday to discuss ways of making Thiensville's commercial corridor a magnetic draw throughout the region - not just within the municipal boundaries.

One possibility is harnessing the power of technology and building a Wi-Fi network.

The Village Board's 14-member Business Renaissance Committee tossed out several tentative proposals aimed at improving the experience shoppers and shop owners have within the community.

At Monday's meeting, committee members agreed to form three subgroups: organizational, economic restructuring and promotions and design. Each subgroup will zero in on some of the finite issues that could enhance Thiensville's business community.

While brainstorming, Wi-Fi cropped up as one potentially reasonable initiative. Members of the organizational subgroup will be looking into the logistics further.

Creating wireless networks within the confines of municipalities was a hot topic more than five years ago. But enthusiasm has cooled in recent years - a factor that could be attributed to ongoing economic woes.

Several committee members tossed out successful examples of municipal Wi-Fi networks, including one in Appleton. But there are other efforts - including one in portions of Milwaukee - that stalled.

While a decision to create a Wi-Fi network in Thiensville is far from official, committee members saw one advantage in the community. The village's compact nature - it only spans one square mile - could bode well for such a proposal.

Committee member Michael Goldberg, who co-owns consignment boutique shop Boz's Clozet with wife Jill Joswick Goldberg, said he favors further exploration.

"We've got to give people a reason to come to Thiensville," Goldberg said.

As proposed, the Wi-Fi network would benefit customers, who could access the Internet on any applicable device. It could also be a draw to potential business owners contemplating a move into the community. Attaining Internet access would be one less worry.

The Wi-Fi proposal will be explored further within the just-formed organizational subcommittee and discussed further at future committee meetings. Issues that will have to be fleshed out include cost estimates and options for service providers.

"Each one of our ideas will require a certain amount of due diligence," said Trustee David Lange, who serves on the committee.

Lange encouraged all members to brainstorm ideas that could potentially enhance Thiensville's business branding.

"I'm sure everyone in this room has an idea that's worth exploring," he said. "We want to work toward building a framework."

One thought tossed out into the group, but not deliberated, is the possibility of holding a concert series in one of the more visible areas of the community.

If any proposals, including the Wi-Fi network, are acceptable at the committee level, they will likely be forwarded on to the Village Board for further deliberation and ultimate action.

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