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Londonderry councilors critical of town’s economic development website

By April Guilmet
Union Leader Correspondent

April 23. 2014 12:36AM

LONDONDERRY — As town officials work to create a more user-friendly Londonderry Economic Development website, many are expressing concern over the current site’s downplaying of several major development projects, such as Woodmont Commons and Pettengill Road.

During Monday night’s Town Council meeting, project manager Stu Arnette and town GIS Manager John Vogl shared an update of the project’s status.

Town Manager Kevin Smith said an updated website was necessary as the existing economic development site contains outdated information and is becoming costly to manage.

Smith said the ultimate goal is to manage the website in-house, with updates aimed at keeping potential businesses and companies fully informed of upcoming opportunities in town.

Arnette said the current site is “about four or five years old” and “clearly, time has passed it by.”

The new site will be incorporated into the general town website via a direct link, rather than being on a separate page, Arnette said.

“A definite goal of ours is to target a certain audience,” he added. “People need good, current data, and the people who will be looking at this site are a specific crowd: They’re site selectors, senior commercial brokers and tax attorneys looking for incentive packages. They’re not vacation seekers.”

Councilor John Farrell said he’s concerned about the initial progress made to the website, noting the site “still doesn’t have Londonderry’s full story front and center.”

“I wouldn’t read this and tie it in with Woodmont and Pettengill,” Farrell said, referring to the two major developments on Londonderry’s horizon.

Plans for Woodmont Commons, a 635-acre town village project located in former orchard land along Route 102 and Interstate 93, were conditionally approved last year.

Pettengill Road, located off the new airport access road on the other side of town, is expected to be the center of extensive commercial and industrial development in the coming years, with legislators currently working toward an infrastructure-funding plan to help make it happen.

Farrell suggested town officials might work with some local commercial real estate agencies in town to get their take on the matter.

“If I were a business person looking for a community to set up shop, I’d want to know that all of this is going on,” he said. Arnette said the site currently has links to the Woodmont Commons master plan, though Farrell noted the system isn’t exactly user-friendly. “I see meeting links here dating all the way back to 2008,” Farrell said. “ To fully understand what’s going on here, I’d have to go through about 30 different documents.”Local business owner Annette Stoller offered her opinion.

“You need a marketing piece, and this isn’t it,” said Stoller, who is the principal broker of Real Time Realty in Londonderry.

Stoller said she’d be happy to offer further suggestions.

“We have over 34 years of experience,” she told town officials.

Council Chairman Tom Dolan suggested accepting Stoller’s offer.

“We’ve got some great resources right here in the community,” Dolan said. “They’re willing to help, and that’s certainly something we should take advantage of. Because we have these two enormous, gigantic developments that are on the cusp of beginning, which is pretty distinguishing.”

Councilor Tom Freda agreed.

“We should be advertising ourselves better,” he said. “We have to show that we’re different from our neighbors.”

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