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Firm pushes for the right feel on Thiensville's Main Street

Oct. 3, 2012

Thiensville - Using the principles found in the ancient aspects of feng shui, representatives from a local firm on Monday asked village officials to consider elements of energy and movement when embarking on the redesign of Main Street.

Rhainey Watts-Cunningham and Alex Hartwell, owners of design firm Vielibra Feng Shui, came before the Village Board with their proposal which, if approved, would carry a $5,000 price tag.

"Feng shui has been used to develop towns and cities, as well as to help businesses and homeowners prosper," Watts-Cunningham said during her presentation.

"Feng shui applied to a site brings balance, creates harmony and energizes plans and goals," Watts-Cunningham said. "When the energy is balanced and flowing evenly, it benefits every part of the community."

Watts-Cunningham and Hartwell argued the current layout of Thiensville's Main Street could put a choke-hold on local business owners because motorists are not encouraged to meander along the village's primary thoroughfare.

"People might be going into town, but they're not encouraged to stay," Watts-Cunningham said. "We'd like to see the community build itself and nourish itself."

Hartwell said the village could undertake a number of designs alongside the engineering work that will be done in the years ahead to rehabilitate Main Street. One of the more obvious examples, he said, could encompass the placement of more trees and planters along the sidewalk.

Other possibilities include light fixtures, signs in specific areas, greater use of crosswalks, and bump-outs along the curb to enhance aesthetics. All of the proposals would be designed to encourage passers-by to take a look at the village's busiest street.

"We certainly have some ideas," Hartwell said. "We know what we'd like to see."

Watts-Cunningham added, "We wouldn't propose anything that would look stupid."

The board did not take any action on the proposal, but said further consultation could take place with Ruekert-Mielke, the civil engineering firm selected to undertake the nuts and bolts of the reconstruction effort.

Reaction among elected officials was mixed, with some expressing preliminary interest and others questioning how much Main Street could be altered aesthetically.

"I would like to think of myself as a progressive guy," Trustee Kim Beck said. "But this is a little too far out for me."

Village President Van Mobley said he was receptive to enhancing the aesthetics, but had reservations about altering the overall design of Main Street itself.

"A road is a road, and they're not really able to be altered," Mobley said. "But I think of the holiday season, and Thiensville is at its finest with all of the decorations."

Trustee John Treffert likened the Main Street rehabilitation to a remodeling project.

"If Main Street looks the same as it does now (after the rehabilitation), I'd be very disappointed," Treffert said. "I look at this as making some tweaks and improving the livability of the area."

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