Case Study: The Township Of Hopewell Built Community Engagement Around the Emerald Ash Borer Invasion
Committee Member of the Township of Hopewell NJ (population around 16,000), Vanessa Sandom recognizes the importance of connecting with the community:
“New Jersey municipalities often struggle engaging their citizens. More, outside of public meetings, governments have few ways to hear resident feedback….. Hopewell Township hopes to create a new citizen-action forum, bridging the gap between resident and government”
Hopewell Township launched their EngagementHQ site in November 2016 and in the first 3 months have succeeded in getting the community involved in mapping the location and condition of trees threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer pest invasion.
“Response to our first issue – the Emerald Ash Borer invasion – has been positive and swift. A non-native, invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer beetle will kill Ash trees in our town. To save the trees, we have used our EngagementHQ website to show residents how to identify Ash trees, explore relevant information, and map their tree locations. Once the Ash Trees have been mapped, the municipality can apply the life-saving treatments to Township-owned ash trees, and inform private residents what they can do for their own Ash trees. Our EngagementHQ website has made information gathering more time and cost efficient, and has centralized our community response. Both will help the Township government make better decisions in the future.”
To date 133 pins have been placed in the map by community members.
The Township plans to expand use of their portal to allow the community to debate and discuss important issues with their neighbors and to allow the city to communicate important facts directly to the community while complying with NJ Open Public Meetings and Open Public Records Acts regulations.
Asked about the experience of adopting EngagementHQ Vanessa described EngagementHQ as “remarkably easy yet robust” and remarked that “Every step of the way, EngagementHQ has provided personalized support and fast turnaround to questions”.
Vanessa summed up by saying that:
“Citizens expect transparency and accountability, and EngagementHQ’s flexible and robust platform enables both.”