Free Wifi Is Coming to Some Milwaukee Parks

This initiative will make the internet more available in underserved communities.

Ten parks located next to City buildings will offer open-access wireless internet in underserved communities throughout Milwaukee.

The public can access free wireless internet from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at the following locations by connecting a device to the “City of Milwaukee WiFi” network:

  • Fondy Farmer’s Market, 2200 W. Fond du Lac Ave.
  • Reiske Park, 1640 S. 24th St.
  • Galena Play Area, 3002 W. Galena St.
  • Reservoir Park, 801 E. North Ave.
  • Popuch Park, 8500 N. Granville Road
  • Cawker Play Area, 2929 N. 30th St.
  • Florist Play Area, 5969 N. 84th St.
  • Lincoln Playfield, 300 W. Lincoln Ave.

The project, which has a cost of more than $100,000, is being funded by CARES Act dollars and involves a partnership between the City’s Information Technology Management Division and other city agencies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made affordable and reliable internet access a necessity for our residents working and schooling from home,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “Now, in addition to free Wi-Fi access at public buildings like libraries and schools, individuals in underserved areas can look to our parks as other locations to get online.”

Wi-Fi service will be added later this year at two more parks as park improvements are made. They are:

  • Melvina Play Area, 3840 N. 29th St.
  • Zillman Park, 2180 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The City has provided free wireless access at Pere Marquette and Cathedral Square parks downtown since 2003. At the time, Milwaukee was only the second U.S. city providing free web service in public areas.

Milwaukee plans to expand wireless internet into additional parks through upcoming grant opportunities. State statute limits the City’s ability to directly provide or subsidize broadband internet service to residents.

Efforts by the Environmental Collaboration Office, Information Technology Management Division and MKE Plays are under way to establish wireless access at Victory Over Violence Park in the Harambee neighborhood, the Garden District Community Garden and at a new City park at West Clybourn and North 29th streets.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.