Several months ago, as he waited for his coffee at a local coffee shop, Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards noticed the eatery was filled with people sipping their drinks, eating sandwiches and “playing” on electronic devices.
Like many restaurants and businesses, the coffee shop provides free public Wi-Fi access to smartphone, laptop, notebook and tablet users. The idea then occurred to Edwards that the city could offer free public Wi-Fi at Bradwell Park.
“It’s nothing but an idea right now,” Edwards stressed. “It’s not totally uncommon though to have Wi-Fi available in outdoor settings. … What I’ve done so far is ask the city’s IT folks and the (Hinesville) Downtown Development Authority to determine the costs for installing Wi-Fi in Bradwell Park. I’m still waiting to hear back from them.”
Edward said redesign plans for Bradwell Park were reviewed and approved by the city council in March 2012. The concept redesign plan would close Commerce Street from M.L. King Jr. Drive to Court Street. This would expand the park while allowing sidewalk and patio space for outdoor tables and chairs in front of businesses now on Commerce Street. Having free Wi-Fi available might attract more visitors, he said. Edwards said the city is waiting on funding before beginning construction on the redesign.
He said when he has received all the information necessary for city-council members to make a decision about offering free Wi-Fi in the park, he will present it to the council at a public meeting.
“People — especially students — want to be able to go grab their sandwich and sit in the park but be close enough to an urban environment that they can still access social media,” he said. “I think it would attract a good number of people. It’s still just an idea, though.”