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The Town of Seabrook Island has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its website redesign and online public comment portal.

The Town of Seabrook Island has received a Municipal Achievement Award for its website redesign and online public comment portal. The town won in the 1,001 – 5,000 population category. Thirty cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives for consideration in the awards. 

The Town of Seabrook Island understood from the flood of 2015 and hurricane events in the years afterward that its old website had significant limitations while in emergency mode — advisory alerts had to be very short and could not be archived. The aging website was expensive to maintain, difficult to navigate and not mobile friendly. 

Officials decided to resolve these issues with a new website. The town began a comprehensive planning and research process with an advisory committee of residents. While a third-party developer had created the old version, town staff created the new site in-house for less than $600 — far less than the cost of the previous site.

The new version of www.townofseabrookisland.org launched in April 2019. Built on a new hosting platform, it features improved navigation and a community calendar. The site also improves transparency with an archive of audio recordings from public meetings of council, commissions, committees and boards. The town coordinated with its local businesses for a new visitor information page.

The site also has a public comment portal to promote resident engagement in the policy-making process and help them better understand how local government works. Residents can review and submit comments on pending action items. For public hearings on ordinances, 77% of the comments received by council came from the new site. The site continues to be key for emergency notices, which are now archived. In the three days before and after Hurricane Dorian, traffic was up by 947% compared to the rest of 2019. 

“Leaders in Seabrook Island saw an opportunity to improve a vital service for residents, and in doing so they found a way to include their residents in the decision-making process also,” said Todd Glover, executive director for the Municipal Association.

These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association’s website www.masc.sc (keyword: Achievement Awards).  

The Municipal Association of SC initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.