HDC fancies digitizing files

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Historic District commissioners decided at a previous workshop to investigate creating a property file database of properties within the district, and new commissioners Mark Ingram and Wendi Super volunteered to research strategies for compiling a record of probably 2,000 files.

Super suggested at the July 5 meeting they develop a map-based system whereby points on a map of the Historic District become links to a Dropbox file for each address, and each digital file would contain everything in the paper file for each property at the courthouse.

Commissioner Melissa Greene said she was not clear on what they were trying to achieve, to which Super responded the purpose was to get all the information off paper, and added that the mapping system was free.

Ingram commented the current paper system is antiquated, and conjectured that everything about these properties would disappear if the courthouse burned down. Also, commissioners could quickly access information about a property on their agenda. The dilemma is who would scan the contents of 2,000 files.

Ingram volunteered to scan a few files at a time when he could, and Greene stated they would need a commercial scanner if they really intended to make this database.

Commissioner Dee Bright asked City Economic Development Coordinator Glenna Booth if she thought the project was worthwhile, and Booth said she wasn’t clear on how much demand there would be as people who talk with her about property issues want paper copies.

Commissioner Steve Holifield said if information were as easily available as their plan intends, people would use it.

Commissioners agreed paper files should be retained for the foreseeable future, but there was still the question of who would do the work. “We’ll work on it till it’s done,” Super said, but Greene wanted a clearer plan and said they cannot expect to depend on volunteers. She said if they made a presentation to city council on the benefits of the database, aldermen might see fit to provide additional financial support.

In the end, commissioners decided to explore the cost of a commercial scanner, and Super volunteered to give a computer demonstration at the next workshop.

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