Bethany Beach moves on town map project

Bethany Beach was recently given the all-clear by representatives of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce to take up a map project for the town. The Chamber didn’t intend to continue its own project, they were told, and wouldn’t see any conflict with Bethany Beach doing such a project. So the town was in the clear to organize its own advertising-supported map.

That came a step closer to reality on Wednesday, as members of the town’s Communication Committee met to discuss two proposals from companies that carry out the projects.

On the surface, the proposals from Municipal Publications and Village Profile were nearly identical. But there were two key differences: Village Profile offers a tear-off, single-page map (grouped in a notepad-like arrangement) as part of its package, and they also offer a 10 percent royalty to the town — approximately $2,000. (Neither company required payment from the town.)

With similar processes, levels of town involvement, and size and quality of the resulting map, committee members voted unanimously not only to endorse the idea of a town map but to pursue an agreement with Village Profile to carry out the project in time to have a map available before the 2007 summer season.

Details remained to be worked out and made concrete, but the committee members were to make a list of town information they wanted displayed on the finished maps in preparation for another meeting with the company, at which a final proposal and contract could be firmed up for future approval by the town council.

With a September start for selling the supporting advertising, the maps would likely be ready for residents, visitors and local businesses to have in hand in late April or early May of 2007.

Advertisers would have a variety of options for ad sizes, each with an accompanying number of free maps for their own use. And while the town will focus on its incorporated area in terms of a street map and town information, the advertising portion of the map will be open to all area businesses. The map will also, committee members planned, include a basic map of the larger area, making it even more attractive to businesses outside the town.

In addition to distribution at town hall and other public locations, the tear-off maps would potentially be offered as a convenience on the town trolley.

Graviet takes lead on Web revamp

Committee members handed off the momentum on another project May 24 — a revamp of the town Web site. They turned the project over to Town Manager Cliff Graviet and his staff, citing an increasing integration for town administrative functions and the Web site.

Graviet said the company providing technical support to the town on computer server — Future Tech — had included some suggestions for the Web site as part of its work to help integrate the town’s police department and administration. Because of those suggestions, Graviet said he was ready to field proposals from Future Tech and several other companies to do the Web site revamp the Communications Committee has been discussing for months.

The town manager explained that he thought the initial parts of the redesign were best handled by the administration since it’s his office that deals with the site’s regular updates and makes the most use of it. Graviet said he didn’t want to end up far along in the process and then discover that the new design didn’t work for those who use it most.

So the committee will now come back into play later in the process, to review the proposals Graviet gathers, all with an eye toward the same kind of integrated, modern, “e-government” appeal they’ve been considering these many months.

“It will make the kind of work Janet (Connery, finance director) does more visible to the public,” Graviet explained. “I’m looking to something completely different here in Delaware, something that will take us to the top of the heap.”

Graviet also took Charter and Ordinance Committee member Fulton Lapatto up on his offer to consult on the project. Lapatto, before he retired, worked for government agencies, consulting on a variety of computer contracting and business issues, and focusing on security.

Open house scheduled

Committee members also discussed plans for an open house event. The idea was discussed in the fall of 2005, but it has proven difficult to find a good date for the event. In recent weeks, town staff had settled on Labor Day weekend as a possibility, and committee members roundly endorsed the idea.

The open house would throw open the doors of town hall for a full day, with staff in attendance, so that residents and visitors can take a tour of the entire facility — including areas normally off-limits to the average person. The town museum, town manager’s office, police department and other areas will be open for anyone and everyone to visit on that day. Refreshments will be served.

Committee members and staff plan to firm up the details for the event as that time comes closer.