WESTFIELD, NJ — The requests submitted from the cell phone application Westfield Connect include those to fill potholes, remove tree branches from the streets and unclog sewer drains — among other tasks.

In its first year of implementing the technology allowing residents to submit public works service requests through their smartphones, the town took in 781 requests, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said.

In the first six months of the using the program, the town averaged three requests per day and gained 551 unique users, Gildea said at a council meeting earlier this week. Then came COVID-19, and residents found themselves noticing even more things for the town to fix.

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“One of the things we’ve seen in the past few weeks, particularly, is that Westfield SeeClickFix requests have been on the rise,” Gildea said, referencing the company that hosts the Westfield Connect portal.

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On average, Gildea said, it took the town five days to close out each request in the program’s first six months.

Gildea said that some requests — such as requests to change the timing of traffic lights — have not fallen into specific categories and so the town will be adding more categories to the system.

A review of the portal by TAPinto Westfield found that the most frequent requests were those to fix potholes, clear storm drains and remove dead tree limbs.

But the requests for service don’t stop there.

One request recorded on the platform May 8 points out what appears to be a child’s abandoned bicycle.

“Bike has been abandoned at park entrance for two weeks plus,” the anonymous poster states. “Multiple postings on neighborhood Facebook [groups]. Please remove, thank you.”

In a subsequent comment on the online platform, a woman notes that the bicycle has a registration number possibly trackable by local police.

“This will be attended to this week. Thank you,” states DPW Director Greg O’Neil in reply.

Just because a request is closed, however, does not mean the issue has been immediately resolved, as some requests are referred to other agencies, a review of the platform shows.

A report of “human feces left on the trail” in Tamaques Park on Wednesday is categorized as a “bathroom” issue and labeled as “closed” after being referred to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

An uncovered drain in the roadway on Clover Street reported to the town Wednesday shows as being referred to Elizabethtown Gas and is also labeled as closed. The town provides a reference number from the gas company for the issue.

Responding to a report this past Sunday of a sidewalk raised by the root of an unruly tree, the town’s DPW director says that tree is slated for removal and that the property owner will then be able to repair the thoroughfare.

“This tree is a Green Ash and has been heavily pruned by PSE&G,” O’Neil writes. “The lifting of your sidewalk can only be corrected by the tree being removed. At that time, you may have your sidewalk repaired. We will place this on our removal schedule. Thank you.”

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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