WYOMING — On a sunny Friday afternoon in Wyoming, adults and children, walking and on bicycles, flocked to the Village Green area, the heart of the city’s business district.
Some of the adults sported a cup with “D.O.R.A.” written on the side while others sat on picnic tables to enjoy the new free Wi-Fi. These two resources, put in place in May by the Wyoming Recreation Foundation, are meant to draw more visitors to the area.
“We’re essentially a very residential community, and we’re not really a huge pass-through community,” explained Monica Tuck with the Foundation. “Most people don’t even know about Wyoming."
She hopes that will now change.
The D.O.R.A., which stands for Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, allows visitors to take alcoholic beverages around the city’s business district, including Wyoming Avenue and Springfield Pike.
“You can go into retail shops with your cups, you can stand outside with your cups,” Tuck said. “As long as they’re coming out of our local businesses.”
D.O.R.A. was launched in the midst of Ohio's stay-at-home order, so Tuck said they are looking forward to seeing how it does when things start getting back to normal.
The city also partnered with Cincinnati Bell to install free Wi-Fi for visitors to use, whether it be to look for a new job or take a class or work outside. This initiative is called the Smart City Experience.
“Once people subscribe to the Wi-Fi we can really start communicating and people can know when events are going on, parks and recreation information, city event information and stay up to date on all the restaurants and retail specials and deals in our community,” Tuck said.
Shops like Wyoming Florists, which was forced to close its doors for the first time since 1951, hope these initiatives will drive people back into locally-owned businesses.
“I think every business in the community hopes that having more foot traffic coming and going will pique interest in the windows or pique interest in ‘Hey, I can get this here instead of in Target or Walmart’,” said April Benken, who owns the shop.
The shop, which has three employees, is returning to regular hours this week. Benken hopes that while their hours are going back to normal, so will their business and sales.
“We are a small owned family-owned business, and we only have two to three employees,” Benken said. “It is really hard to make that decision (to close doors during COVID-19 – because it is their livelihood, and it’s their jobs and they pay their bills.”
In addition to businesses hoping for a turn in events, Wyoming residents are also looking forward to seeing new – and more – faces in the heart of the city.
“I think it’s perfect timing,” said Cara Hyland, who lives in Wyoming but is originally from Cincinnati’s West Side. “With the restaurants and bars being limited capacity and having restrictions, this will bring people out, give us something to do, give us something to look forward to. I think it came at the perfect time!”
Although Monica Tuck looks forward to the influx of visitors, she hopes they will visit the city and do so in a safe manner.
"We will have some street sidewalk signs up soon with the guidelines for the community and local government rules for social distancing," she said. "We want everyone to be able to partake in D.O.R.A. at our restaurant and retail spaces, but we also want to do it in a healthy way."