Sea Cliff village website gets an upgrade

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Residents who have logged on to www.seacliff-ny.gov in recent weeks have been treated to a pleasant surprise: a new layout for the website. In 2017, a 24-member team of volunteers from Sea Cliff’s Tech Task Force began to brainstorm ideas for improving the site, which, according to Deputy Mayor Kevin McGilloway, was “a generation behind.”

“A number of residents said it was too difficult to navigate to the content they wanted,” he said, “so we set out to address that.”

McGilloway, who co-chairs the Tech Task Force, said the new website was designed with three objectives in mind: transparency, connectivity and efficiency. Residents now have greater access to data, and most content can be found in “two clicks,” at most, he said.

The updated site, which went live last month, boasts a crisp blue color scheme with photos of Sea Cliff’s waterfront in the background, and the village crest anchors it all. Six tabs, called “quick links,” line the top of the homepage (see box), which also features a meetings calendar, a welcome message and a “What’s Going On?” tab that links to the village bulletin, Sea Cliff’s e-newsletter, agendas and job openings.

Also on a tab is a link to Sea Cliff’s sanitation and recycling schedule. According to a village-wide survey conducted by the task force, the old website was used most often by residents to check garbage collection times, McGilloway said.

Resident Liz Baron, who co-chairs the task force, had proposed managing the new site using a software platform service. She said this model would enhance functionality, since it passes building, maintenance and operational responsibilities on to the service provider.

Five software service providers responded to a request for proposals. Task force members selected Civic Plus, a software platform built for local governments, to manage the site based on its functions and cost-effectiveness. A one-time licensing fee, to be paid over a three-year period, costs about $4,000, and the annual operating fee is roughly $2,000.

Civic Plus offers a wide range of features to yield greater productivity and operational use across more devices, including tablets and smartphones, Baron said. The village appointed two user managers to provide web oversight in-house, and the task force trained five residents to post timely, accurate content.

“Our goal was to create a digital hub,” Baron said, “where people could feel more connected to our Sea Cliff community.”

The new platform allows residents to obtain, fill out and submit forms electronically. Building Inspector Shane Dommin is in the process of redesigning building permit forms, which will be available on the website within the next 90 days, McGilloway said. Next on the list, he added, is a log-on function that will enable residents to pay their village tax bills online.

Residents can also easily subscribe to a variety of alerts, to be notified when their tax bill is due, when there’s a change in the garbage collection schedule or when the Department of Public Works reports a problem. “With this new function, you go in and tick off [a box and decide] how connected you want to be,” McGilloway said.

“It’s clearly much easier for residents to navigate,” Baron said, “and it makes the little daily things that we take care of much easier, too.”