By JOHN T. WARD
Sea Bright residents and business owners have a new source for information about civic life, and it didn’t cost the town a nickel.
A borough website to replace the clunky old one went online last month.
The site was built by IPKeys, a company owned part-time borough resident Mark Pappas, who donated his company’s resources for the project.
The company emerged as a contractor from Fort Monmouth eight years ago – Pappas was in Army Intelligence and worked at the fort for seven years – and specializes in military work. It had never built a local government site before, Pappas said.
The idea that he might do it for Sea Bright hit him out of the blue.
Pappas, 52, who has homes in the borough and in Rumson, said he was at a town meeting shortly after Hurricane Sandy, and “there was a barrage of people asking questions” of town officials, desperate for guidance on what the near-term future might be, he said. Pappas didn’t blame the residents and business owners for their anger, he said. “When you’re out of your home for a month, there’s a natural tendency to vent.”
At one point, Pappas stood and told Mayor Dina Long that she and the council needed to improve the flow of communications. In response, Pappas recalled, “she said, basically, ‘we’re broke. We don’t have any money.’ ”
“So I said, ‘I’ll do the website,’” Pappas said. “A couple of people clapped, and a couple of people looked at me like, who is this guy?” he said with a laugh.
Pappas worked with web designer Sylvia Farrat of IPKeys to build the new site, investing some $30,000 worth of man-hours on the project while consulting with town officials on what the site should include. Almost 16 months later, the new site has gone live, though officials say it’s still be tweaked and debugged.
It features a handy scroll showing upcoming government meetings, and easier navigation to documents such as council meeting minutes.
Built on the free WordPress blogging software, it can be easily updated by a borough employee designated to handle the work. It also features responsive web design so that it adjusts content to fit whatever device it’s viewed on.
“I’m excited because it looks modern, and it works on a mobile phone,” said Long.
Long calls the donated site “an incredibly generous gift to Sea Bright residents and the community. We’re incredibly grateful to him for providing that resource.”