‘Telephone town hall’ a ringing success in Gloucester Twp.

Posted: February 28, 2013

Dan had nothing to say.

The first caller on Gloucester Township's "telephone town hall" Wednesday night asked no question of the mayor, David R. Mayer. The conference call's moderator prompted him - "Dan, go ahead please" - before moving on to Kelly.

Kelly was no Dan. "I was just curious," she said, "what the current administration has been doing to stimulate economic growth in the township."

With that, the town hall was under way. Fourteen people asked questions during the hour-long call, with only four or five more queued up when the call ended.

They called to ask about potholes, solar panels, and trash services. Ed asked about how bond ratings impact residents; Mike wondered how Camden County College's presence is tied to economic development.

Over the course of the night, 3,645 people called in to talk or listen, said Bob DiLella, whose company helped manage the conference.

In addition to those whose voices were heard directly, hundreds more had their opinions logged.

The moderator, Curt Cerveny, posed four survey questions to callers, who were asked to press a number from 1 to 5 on their keypads to register their thoughts on a scale from "very satisfied" to "totally unsatisfied."

Cerveny asked about a new recycling program, efforts to attract businesses, public safety, and recreation and open space.

"How satisfied are you with the new single-stream recycling program?" he asked early in the call. The responses began pouring in: 320 "very satisfied," 54 "somewhat satisfied," 35 "neutral," eight "somewhat satisfied," one caller apparently "totally unsatisfied."

The success of the "telephone town hall" means it will likely be used again, Mayer said in a phone interview after the conference call.

"This is just the beginning," Mayer said. "I just think it was really productive. I think as our residents become more used to this type of process, we're going to see greater participation, so I definitely think this worked well and we'll do it again in the future."

Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220, jlai@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @elaijuh.


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