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Grosse Pointe Farms planning to update website

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 7, 2020

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Less than a decade after its most recent website came online, Grosse Pointe Farms is looking at another website overhaul.

The Farms City Council is expected to vote on a proposal for a new website during a meeting Jan. 21.

City Manager Shane Reeside told the council during a meeting Dec. 9 that the city had received a proposal from Troy-based website developer Revize. Prior to that, he said City Councilwoman Beth Konrad-Wilberding — who runs a communications firm — “agreed to get together with some experts in the community” to critique the current website.

Reeside said they concluded, “It’s not a bad website,” and in many ways, the Farms is “ahead of the curve” as far as city websites, but its “functionality is problematic.” He said the city would like to improve its security protocols, make sure the site is Americans with Disabilities Act-compatible and make some other changes.

The Revize bid, dated Nov. 20, 2019, lists the proposed price for the new website as $15,679, which includes training and an annual fee of $3,500. The annual fee covers unlimited tech support, security software updates and website hosting that includes 30 GB of storage space.

The city’s last website overhaul was announced in 2012; the new site went live in 2013. At that time, the cost was $39,000. The city’s nonprofit Grosse Pointe Farms Foundation contributed $10,000 toward the project. Officials say the cost for municipal websites has fallen in recent years.

Grosse Pointe City’s new website was created by Revize, Reeside said. Grosse Pointe City officials chose Revize because the company had the low bid, it specializes in municipal websites and it is headquartered in metro Detroit.

“They’re clearly the leaders in this field,” Reeside said. “It’s a special niche. We feel very confident this is going to be positive for the community.”

Konrad-Wilberding echoed those sentiments.

“For governmental websites, there are not a lot of companies out there,” she said. “(A) municipality (needs) a very specialized website.”

Konrad-Wilberding said it is “important to have someone close to home” creating the site, because officials will need to work closely with them throughout the process.

Reeside said administrators would be able to do more updates in-house with the new website, and said security would be greatly increased. As to data storage, he said about 300 communities in Michigan use Revize — including larger cities like Birmingham that do more online than the Farms — and capacity hasn’t been an issue for them, so the Farms shouldn’t exceed the 30 GB in this agreement.

“That’s a pretty robust amount of data storage,” Reeside said.

City Councilman Neil Sroka said the $3,500 annual fee was “a very favorable rate,” but he voiced concerns about the fact that historical minutes and agendas available now wouldn’t be moved to the new site, based on the current Revize bid. Sroka said he understands it would be possible to add those documents, although doing so might increase the cost.

Mayor Louis Theros agreed with Sroka about the value of making sure those historical documents remain readily available.

“I think it’s got to be accessible,” Theros said.

Because of the desire to get information about the cost to transfer old minutes and agendas to the new website, the council voted unanimously Dec. 9 to table the matter until its January meeting. At press time, that meeting — which is also slated to include a work session — was scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Pier Park community building. Although the Farms City Council usually meets on Mondays, this meeting will take place on a Tuesday.

An agenda for the meeting wasn’t available at press time. For an agenda or more information, visit the Farms’ website at grossepointefarms.org.