WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The use of the online software Community Pass is expected to make facility scheduling simpler in the West Caldwell, according to a demonstration by Colleen Hartwig and Gabe DiMasi of the Recreation Department.

Although used in the past for pool memberships and other registrations, Community Pass will now allow volunteer coaches and residents to reserve gym and field space for practice, scrimmages and other uses.

“We’ve been asked to explore [Community Pass] to another level, where our volunteer coaches of our recreation teams can look at our facilities calendar and, if possible, find an open time to schedule practice,” said DiMasi. “They can do it simply and then it will come to our desk, where we can approve their application and give them a permit for practice.”

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In order to view practices already scheduled and available time slots at all township facilities, Hartwig said all a resident would need to do is sign into a Community Pass account and use the drop-down menu to request a facility and time.

From a recreation standpoint, the department would receive the request, approve it and then email a permit. This way, Hartwig said, it will be impossible to double-book a practice time.

Hartwig and DiMasi walked the mayor and council through the steps of the scheduling software at a township council meeting last week, where council members addressed some of their concerns. Some of these included the one-hour time limit and the response time after a request is made.

Although the scheduling currently only allows for a one-hour time slot, Hartwig said a coach could log in and register a second-consecutive hour in order to hold a longer practice if need be. Also, she said if a pending request is not yet approved, a second coach would not be able to request that time.

“Colleen and I, as administrators, can book you for any length of time,” said DiMasi. “We’re not limited to that one hour. That one hour is to try and allot it fairly.”

“For any indoor facility, we have to approve it so that we know to have the door open,” said Hartwig. “We will have to be diligent and check it several times a day.”

Hartwig added that a coach should not assume they are permitted to practice at the requested time until he or she receives confirmation and the permit from the recreation department.

Councilman Michael Crudele said one thing the recreation department should consider is including a pop-up message telling the requesting person to “allow one business day for a response” and not to assume the time is approved.

“We’ve already asked the software company about this concern and they think within a month or so it’s going to be resolved,” said DiMasi, adding that the recreation department agrees that the current auto-reply could be a little clearer.

Another suggestion the council made was to add an option for “any facility” for those residents who want to practice but don’t have a preferred facility. Many council members agreed that most recreation coaches know the time and day that they want to hold practice but don’t necessarily care where.

“The other advantage to the resident is that if they forgot when their son’s practice is, they can log on Community Pass and go into the calendar,” said DiMasi. “They can go in and see that without having to call someone about it.”

According to the recreation department, a set of instructions will be distributed to coaches once the software is up and running.