It’s really time for New London to update its municipal website.
Granted, the city deserves some credit for keeping the most essential sections of the site current. Agendas and minutes for meetings are regularly posted. Each department has some helpful details on procedures, applications, and other items. After some complaints from residents regarding the financial documents section, you can now look through the check registers for month-to-month spending.
So the city website isn’t a derelict hulk like so many sites littering cyberspace. No link brings you to an “under construction” page with a Screen Bean shoveling away at a construction site. And even if the look of the site isn’t very glamorous, it’s still pretty functional and easy to follow. But it only takes a quick browse through the site to find a slew of outdated or inaccurate pages.
One page is devoted entirely to public service announcements. It’s not a bad idea; the city kicked off a “New London Alerts” effort after Hurricane Sandy to inform people about important information related to city services. And it’s always good to know when a parking ban is in place.
Instead, this section is used for fire safety tips from the Fire Marshal’s Office. Not bad information, of course, just more appropriate for their own page.
The section on city projects is woefully out-of-date. There is a section on the Bates Woods Park renovation, which has been completed, as well as a years-old traffic advisory on work to be done at Parade Plaza. A section on roadway projects gives a single page lazily saying that $3.5 million will be appropriated over several years to fix up nine miles of streets; no mention of which streets or a repair schedule or anything like that. And so far, nothing on efforts such as the Calkins Park upgrade that will begin this year.
The city makes a good effort to make residents and visitors aware of the services and attractions of New London. Unfortunately, as I’ve learned trying to keep this site’s directory up to date over the years, New London is ever-shifting. Defunct businesses and organizations remain in the listings, newer places are nowhere to be found, and addresses are out of date. Perhaps most egregious, a link to the Public Library of New London brings up only a “page not found” address within the LION system.
And then there’s this, prominently featured on the general information page:
“The City is presently in the midst of a period of economic revitalization with significant development initiatives underway in the State Pier, the Downtown and the Fort Trumbull areas. The most notable result of these efforts is the recent completion of Pfizer, Inc.'s $300 million dollar Global Research and Development Headquarters on the City's waterfront. This is what New London is all about.”
The completion of the Pfizer headquarters is only recent in the cosmic sense, considering the building was built in 2001. It hasn’t been Pfizer’s since the company vacated the premises and Electric Boat purchased it in 2010.
And considering how some residents still bitterly refer to New London as the “eminent domain capital of the world” and see Pfizer as a persona non grata in the city, it might be best if the city website didn’t associate the Fort Trumbull facility with “what New London is all about.”
The city website is a far cry from being an embarrassment and it does an excellent job of letting people know about the government services. But it could certainly use improvement in letting people know about the city outside of City Hall.