Haddonfield is gearing up in the new year to increase its technology capabilities, and as explained by Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich, one move is a newly updated website with a more user-friendly design as well as an app for digital updates and quick links.
“It’s really important to all three of us (commissioners) and it is something we will be very proud of in 2023, when those things are rolled out, because we feel we will be delivering what we said we would do for the residents,” said the mayor.
Some older documents will not be transferred to the website but will be available in the clerk’s office.
“We don’t want that to be the front page of our website when it’s outdated or no longer valid, so we’re trying to go through a number of things to make it more representative of now,” Bianco Bezich noted.
The app will likely be launched ahead of the website, since it’s smaller and farther along in the process. Officials also want to add livestreaming capabilities to allow for hybrid meetings.
“The reason we can’t livestream right now or do hybrid meetings is because the internet connection in that building (borough hall) is terrible if you’re not hardwired, and in our large meeting room, we don’t have hardwired computers,” Bianco Bezich explained.
“What we have to do is invest in actually retrofitting or outfitting the building with the capability to have livestreaming and also hybrid meetings.”
The borough last year sought proposals for the work, but Bianco Bezich noted there was an insufficient response. Livestream capabilities will be a top priority in the new year..
As for capital improvements, the borough wants to continue its road improvement programs. After a lengthy process, Bianco Bezich said the borough hopes to have “shovels in the ground” in 2023 for the Snowden Avenue project, 20 units of affordable housing at the avenue’s parking lot.
The number of units on site was reduced from 28, but the borough purchased eight other units around town to make up the number, per a court-mandated settlement agreement.
“I’m hopeful that we’re underway in 2023, but I don’t know that we’ll be finished in 2023,” the mayor said.
As for redeveloping Lullworth Hall, another ongoing project, the borough announced in November it was entering into an escrow agreement to include four residential condominium suites on the property.
Also in the new year, Bianco Bezich looks forward to events that include the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign – canceled twice in 2022 – and potential celebrations around Juneteenth, Pride Month and Diwali.
“We’re also really looking to build upon the success of fall fest,” she said, as this year’s festival featured more interaction from the nonprofits.
This month or next, the mayor will bring together nonprofits and other stakeholders to put out a call for the volunteers who make borough events possible.
“If we don’t continue to have volunteers,” she acknowledged, “(the events) go away.”