Updated below (3/22).
Despite now having a full-time employee devoted to city communications, the City of Chaska continues to underwhelm with its ability to get information out of City Hall and to its residents. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
- Downtown Master Plan: For weeks before the February 16 Open House, the city was claiming it was going to get information on its website regarding the plan and in particular, the three Catalyst Sites. We’re now nearly five weeks after the Open House, and nothing is posted as of yet.
- Facebook: The city heralded its Facebook account when it opened a year ago. The page now hasn’t been updated in six months.
- Agendas and Minutes: Getting agendas and minutes for the City Council and Commissions on to the webpage continues to somehow be a difficult challenge in 2011. Council agendas are routinely posted very late in the day on the Friday before the meeting. This is a very poor way to allow people to know what is coming up in front of the Council. There’s no reason that a preliminary agenda can’t be posted a week in advance, and then updated to a final agenda on Friday. As for the Commissions, only the Planning Commission has its documents regularly posted to the site. None of the other Commissions show any activity on the website in 2011, and the Heritage Preservation and Parks Commissions show little activity in the second half of 2010. The names of the Commissioners haven’t been updated to reflect the new appointments. This is basic stuff that just isn’t happening.
Who at City Hall is going to begin to take this seriously? Compare what Chaska is doing to what Chanhassen is doing on the web and on Facebook. They have a webpage that is clean with a list of recent updates on the right side of the page and has a repository of agendas and minutes that goes back over a decade. Their Facebook page is updated 2-3 times per week with community links and important updates.
It’s not difficult or expensive to have a clean, easy-to-navigate, and easy-to-update web site today. (This blog, for instance is built on software that is free.) It wouldn’t be difficult for the City of Chaska to have a web presence that reflects that — it just takes a little effort.
The city is approaching a major event in the next few days — serious flooding of the Minnesota River that will precipitate the closure of MN-41 and MN-101 between our area and Shakopee. How is the city going to keep residents informed? Last year, they used Facebook reasonably effectively to do so. This year? Well, we know there’s nothing on Facebook and there’s no current river status on the Chaska city website, either.
Again, compare how Chaska is communicating here versus what is happening in Carver. Carver’s Mayor, Greg Osterdyk, is providing frequent updates on his blog. The city website has updates on the front page and a whole special section as well.
The City of Chaska does so many things well — if only they could get it together on their communications.
[UPDATE, 3/22]: The city is now reposting the Carver County Flood Updates on the front page of the website. Also, a link to the Athletic Park Webcam has been posted.