City land records are going online.
“Mortgages, deeds, transfers — anything to do, basically, with sale of property, real estate property” are being digitized and searchable on the internet, City Clerk Henry Heck said Tuesday.
Heck said the city started digitizing records in 2008, and got as far back as 2006 before the office got too busy to keep scanning older documents. He said the project will go back to 1980, covering the 40 years typically required by lawyers for a “complete records search.” While those will then be accessible via a portal on the city website, Heck said in-office searches will remain an option.
“Just because we’re online doesn’t mean people can’t or won’t have the opportunity to come in and search,” he said. “Some people are old-school.”
Heck said while online searching will be free, however, people will still have to pay a dollar per page to print anything out, just as they would in City Hall.
Heck said the project involves 260,000 pages of documents to be handled by New Hampshire-based digitization company Recordsforce, with the files then turned over to be uploaded by the city’s online vendor, Cott Systems Inc.
“They basically have to take 122 books from within our vault and scan the pages in,” he said. “We’re thinking we’re going to do this over a four-month period because even if they took all 122 books at once, we couldn’t scan them in a week. ... It’s not a simplistic project.”
It’s not an inexpensive one, either — Heck said the cost is estimated at $48,000, with the final number dependent on the complexity of the records. He said a state grant will cover roughly $37,000, and he has the remainder in a state-mandated preservation fund maintained by the office.