Borough nearly ready to join Internet age

Long delays in Web site launch attributed
to bare-bones approach

Staff Writer

Long delays in Web site launch attributed
to bare-bones approach
Staff Writer

Red Bank’s municipal Web site is about to become a virtual reality. Finally.

The site construction, which was expected to take about six months, has taken more than two years.

"We had a series of snags," said Gail O’Reilly, the borough’s director of special projects who has been managing the Web site’s construction since 2001. "It was an unfortunate sequence of events and I am having a hard time assigning the blame."

The borough’s low-budget road to a functional Web site was a long, hard and technical one, according to O’Reilly.

In 2001, the governing body entered into a $4,000 contract with its computer consultant, New Jersey Information Technology. However, due to their method of site configuration and their decision to develop the site with the Microsoft Word application, the consultant failed to get the site up and running.

When it comes to constructing a Web site, "Microsoft Word is not the development tool of choice," O’Reilly said. "But we assumed that the consultant knew what it was doing."

Six months later and still Web-site-less, O’Reilly and other town officials looked into hiring a high-tech Web design company to work on the site. But the borough’s "conservative" budget could not afford those costly fees.

As a last resort, borough officials told O’Reilly, a former computer programmer, to design the Web site herself.

Though she had no Web design experience, O’Reilly, who is also the manager of the borough’s wayfinding program, the cultural and planning grants coordinator for the borough and the head of its shuttle-bus program, accepted the challenge at no increase to her $38,000 annual salary.

O’Reilly expects the site to be up and running by the end of the month.

The 60-page Web site includes a borough directory, a monthly view of events, directions, maps, and a fact sheet that covers everything from marriage license procedures to parking permits. The Web site’s url will not be released until it is approved by the borough’s governing body,

The borough’s history, monthly newsletter, meeting agendas, and recreation sign-up forms, as well as links to sites like and will also be available at the site.

Unlike some of its neighboring municipalities, Red Bank’s site will not provide virtual town halls or e-government services.

On Middletown’s Web site, residents are able to download permits and applications pertaining to the construction department and pay their property taxes, court fines and and parking tickets online.

On the Freehold Township’s Web site, residents can peruse updated copies of the annual budget.

While O’Reilly hopes to integrate those government services in the future, she said the initial motivation was two fold: an effective municipal Web sites to make life easier for citizens and saving money by freeing government employees to do other work.

Assistant Borough Clerk Bonnie Orr, who fields most of the phone calls at town hall, said a municipal Web site would make her job a lot easier.

Dozens of residents call the municipal office everyday, asking questions that could easily be answered on a Web site, she said.