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Wauwatosa Village to improve signage

'Wayfinding' to parking, commerce needs an update

Signage in the Village will no longer name individual businesses, as this sign does, at Harmonee Avenue and State Street, when the new Village wayfinding system is in place.

Signage in the Village will no longer name individual businesses, as this sign does, at Harmonee Avenue and State Street, when the new Village wayfinding system is in place. Photo By Jon Olson

April 2, 2013

The Village of Wauwatosa is planning to hire a consultant to improve its signage and better direct visitors to local businesses, said Jim Plaisted, executive director of the Village Business Improvement District.

"It's a component of the master plan to create a wayfinding system down in the Village because it's confusing to park, (with) all the convoluted streets," Plaisted said.

A request for qualifications and work history from consultants went out in late February, and the BID has received 13 responses. Plaisted said last week that the responses would be considered in the next week or two. He said five or six of the responses were within the budget for the project.

"We're shooting for signs that would be both onto existing poles and new pole structures, pedestrian-level signs, maps, kiosks," he said. "Because of the bike trail access that we have, we're going to try to work with Hart Park and have some bike trail signs as well, so a kind of multi-modal system telling people where to go.

He said the new signage would direct visitors to sections of the Village.

"Hart Park, Village Center - we may actually in this process name sections of the Village, so we may call the Hollander (area) 'Village Center,' we may call Sentry/Walgreens 'The Reef.' Again this is all to come out in the process."

He said the gray signs naming businesses are difficult to keep current. There are so-called trailblazer signs and banners, blue with green trim and a bridgelike logo, placed on approaches to the Village. They are not reflective, reducing their effectiveness at night.

An improved signage and wayfinding system is identified in the Village Plan adopted by the Common Council in 2011. The plan cites a need for good signage because of the Village's "complex street system and the frequently-mentioned difficulties that customers have finding convenient parking."

The request for qualifications and the Village Plan both cite the need for "gateway level" signs telling visitors they are arriving at the Village and identifying major features. At a second level are "decision points," placed at intersections, that would direct visitors to individual destinations, parking and so forth.

As an example, the plan shows a sign system in downtown Milwaukee, which has signs visible to bikers, pedestrians and drivers, and another system in Des Moines, Iowa.

The timeline for the project calls for the selection of a consultant in the second week of April, with a final plan due by the third week of June.

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