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Franconia plans improvements to Web site

April 16, 2018
FRANCONIA—A new Web site is in the works, with citizens being urged to contribute their thoughts and experiences.

Citizens can complete a short feedback survey on the current town website. It asks basic but essential questions, about why citizens use the website, and how easy it is to access. Whether positive or negative, public feedback on the current site will form a key component in building the new one. The survey could take as little as a minute, depending on how detailed a response is left.

This year, voters approved some $3,000 for the purpose of updating the website. Some citizens have expressed strong interest in contracting a third party. The Web site is currently maintained (and was recently updated) by Rec Director Kim Cowles.

A public meeting on the Franconia Web site update will be held Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m. The focus will be sharing information between citizens and civic leaders. Anyone with an interest in the issue, or who felt strongly about the relevant warrant article, should attend and make their voice heard.

"The board hasn't made a decision whether they're not going to go with a new website company, or whether they will," said Town Administrator Holly Burbank at last week's Select Board meeting.

"They're gathering information," she added.

According to Burbank, town hall is laying the groundwork for a potential contract, and calls have been made to a website company. She also urged citizens to voice their opinions through the town's survey.

All of these inputs taken together will "allow the board to make a very well informed decision."

Citizen Dawn Steele was concerned that there are no security controls over the four-question survey, and said it wasn't valid because it didn't check for resident status.

"My cousins out in Timbuktu can do it," she said.

"I hope that we can trust our residents that they'll only do the survey once," responded Select Board Chair Jill Brewer.

Franconia resident Jim Alden criticized Select Board members for reaching out to the public on their own time to gather information about the town Web site.

Brewer replied, "I think it is appropriate that board members have one on one conversations with people. That's how you get information."

Alden complained that his own requests for a private discussion had not been met.

Other citizens voiced concerns about security, perhaps reflecting the seemingly endless series of data breaches at the highest levels of the nation's tech infrastructure.

"How secure is this current email site we have? This Web site?" asked citizen Claudia Lachapelle, who expressed concern that "the advertisers or whatever can link into your Facebook account."

Concerns about Facebook's use of user data have flared up, and culminated in personal testimony from founder Mark Zuckerberg to Congress last week.

Brewer replied that all Web site payments are handled through a secure third party, through which the town can accept online tax payments. She urged citizens to bring their concerns about security to the May 1 meeting.

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