A week after its soft launch at Community Night Out, a new program aimed at streamlining how the municipality deals with non-emergency issues is catching on slowly but steadily with local residents. Access Princeton is a one-stop clearing house for dealing with everything from barking dogs to blocked storm drains. It can be accessed online or via a phone call.
In creating the program, the town has partnered with the application SeeClickFix, which serves numerous communities including Newark, Hamilton, Absecon, and Margate. Princeton residents can call 924-4141 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on business days to report a problem. The email address is email@example.com. Alternately, residents can visit www.seeclickfix.com. A mobile app is being developed.
“So far, we’re doing okay,” said Christina Rothman-Iliff, who is directing the program. Ms. Rothman-Iliff was the dispatcher for the former Princeton Borough police department before consolidation. She is operating, along with customer service coordinator Debra Rogers, out of the old police dispatch office in Monument Hall, formerly Borough Hall.
“We’ve gotten some calls. Some people are using the web widgets to report problems through SeeClickFix, and we’re hoping for more,” Ms. Rothman-Iliff continued. “This will streamline things with one number to call. Specifically with consolidation, people have been confused about what number to use.”
Access Princeton is designed to make it easier for residents to determine which government agency can help them with a problem. “This has advantages for both residents and the staff,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “It will simplify residents’ ability to get in touch with the municipality. The idea is just to make it simple. You don’t need to know what department to contact. You just report your concern or question, and either they’ll put you through or handle the complaint directly.”
Kathy Monzo, the town’s assistant administrator and director of finance and among those being considered to take over Administrator Robert Bruschi’s job when he retires next month, came up with the idea for the program. “It’s a way to deliver better services but also to improve accountability on the back end,” Ms. Lempert said. “One of the great things is that it makes it not only simpler for the residents, but also easier for the administration to track the volume of complaints that are being handled, how quickly turnaround is, and what outstanding issues there still are. Hopefully, when you have a list of all the potholes that need to be filled in a centralized place, it will increase efficiency as well.”
One advantage of the site is that it allows residents to check the progress of a complaint. Ms. Lempert said that in the first four days, 24 issues were reported by residents, and 21 of those issues were resolved.
Access Princeton will be officially launched in mid-September. “We’re using this time until then to work out any kinks,” Ms. Rothman-Iliff said.