There are now announcements from Town Hall being posted on the town website- www.Longmeadow.org. A new notice was also posted today that the Town Manager’s Website TaskForce will asking town residents how to improve the website and what other electronic services should be offered.
Now that I know that there are some people at Town Hall reading the Buzz blog and reacting to at least some of my comments, I would like to offer the following suggestions….
- Keep the town announcements and event calendar timely and up-to-date.
Town residents want to know about street repaving work and other project work “before” it begins. There is currently some street reconstruction work going on this week on Longfellow Street. I know that Center School sent out letters to parents but not all of us have kids attending Center School so a town wide announcement would have been useful.
The new agenda “tab” on the Calendar solves the "readability" problem that I mentioned in my last post.... thanks!
- Meeting minutes…. I attended last week’s School Building Committee meeting and posted some notes here on the Buzz. At this meeting on Sept 15 (8 days ago) there were 4 sets of minutes approved dating back to May. Why are they not posted on the School Building Department website?
How about Select Board meeting minutes? There is only one new set of minutes posted for the combined School Committee/ SB meeting on September 20, but where are all of the other ones for meetings this past summer?
How about meeting minutes for all of the other boards/ committees/ commissions?
The new Massachusetts Open Meeting Law (Section 22 (c), effective July 1) states: “Minutes of all open sessions shall be created and approved in a timely manner. The minutes of an open session, if they exist and whether approved or in draft form, shall be made available upon request by any person within 10 days.
The new www.Longmeadow.org website should provide town residents with easy access to all meeting minutes. The Town Manager and “webmaster” should actively solicit this information. Posting of meeting minutes 2-6 months after the meeting has occurred usually provides information with very little worthwhile value.
Perhaps “draft” meeting minutes could be posted (and labeled as DRAFT) as soon as they are available possibly within days of a meeting. (A former Longmeadow School Superintendent (Tom McGarry) posted his meeting "notes" on the town website within a week of the meeting.) This would permit town residents to better understand what is happening and attend the next meeting or write email if necessary to provide their comments. This would be a large step forward in communicating with town residents.
- There is an organization called Common Cause of Massachusetts which actively promotes better e-Government. Each year they evaluate (and re-evaluate) official city and town government websites in Massachusetts using an established set of criteria and recognize cities and towns in Massachusetts accordingly for their efforts. Through my work as town webmaster Longmeadow has received this e-Government award for the past three years. There is a “with distinction” award designation which Longmeadow has not received because some documents have been missing from the website. Receiving the e-Government “with distinction” award should be a goal of the new website team.
If Longmeadow were being evaluated today by Common Cause, it is likely that Longmeadow’s town website would not receive the e-
- There was a strong interest by three members of the Select Board (Aseltine-Barkett-Swanson) to take control of the website and convert it to an “official town government” website. That makes a lot of sense since significant taxpayer money will now be used to support the website. Providing technical support for community organizations including website development and other needs should be considered outside the scope of the website.
LongmeadowBiz, LLC has already made an offer to provide Storrs Library with free website support but it has been refused.