Downtown West Bend BID Board plans for next year


August 10, 2017

 Vicki Bressler with Merle Norman Cosmetics checks her phone Wednesday afternoon as man walks along the sidewalk near her businesses’ new location on South Main Street in downtown West Bend. Bressler hopes to open this month.
John Ehlke/Daily News

As 2017 heads into its final stretch, Downtown West Bend Business Improvement District representatives are making plans for the following year and establishing a foundation for how they want to shape the organization’s future.

During Tuesday’s meeting, members unveiled ideas they generated during the strategic thinking session that some attended.

Although ideas were introduced, those who attended believed additional thoughts could have been incorporated had there been more participation from the members of the group during the thinking session hosted at the end of July.

“We had a great session on July 31 and I want to thank everyone who did come,” President Mike Husar said via conference call because he could not physically attend. “I am extremely disappointed in the fact that Ashley (Mukasa) went through a ton of work, doing the calendar poll, to come up with a date that everybody said they could attend. Then to have barely a quorum to be able to do anything for the meeting, to me it is disappointing.”

Mukasa is West Bend’s economic development manager. She, along with City Administrator Jay Shambeau, Husar, and fellow members Brian Culligan, Peggy Fischer, Anthony Jasen and Wayne Kainz participated in the session and developed strategic planning ideas for the organization’s future, according to notes taken from the workshop.

What resulted from the meeting was a document listing several categories and within them, initiatives that members wanted to accomplish.

In the visioning section for example, members listed programs such as the restoration of Riverwalk/River, improvements in appearance and buildings, increased parking and area foot traffic and improved streets and sidewalks.

Participants listed the organization’s strengths such as the diversity of the industries they represent, the skills they possess and the vision they have for the board. Other strengths include the budget they to work with, how they spend resources they are allocated and the unified voice they present to government officials.

In terms of the downtown district, strengths included the parks system, the events that draw people to the area, the revived theater project and the Museum of Wisconsin Art along with positive energy and the momentum they have gained from the work they have done.

As for areas for opportunities, attendees listed more engagement with community organizations, better communication with the executive director, clearer vision, better attendance by the nine members of the board to meetings and communication with other organizations that have a positive vision for the city.

Opportunities for the downtown district are marketing of the area, decreasing the number of vacant store fronts and occupancies, planting additional trees and increase the walkability and biking access.

The feedback generated a set of goals members wanted to accomplish. Projects such as completing the street improvement plan and the Riverwalk for the west side. They also want to increase access and add businesses to the district. They want to augment the number of parking spaces by 25 in three years and fill all vacant properties.

Whether they will accomplish what they set out to do remains to be seen, but many view the plan as a positive initial step members need to formulate an action plan.

“I would just say I think those kinds of conversations are always healthy for boards, commissions, committees, taking time to step back from your day-to-day grind and spend time blue-sky thinking or strategic planning is always a helpful exercise,” Shambeau said.