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Northampton smartphone app in use; Route 66 forum Wednesday

NORTHAMPTON — From a pile of trash to a parking meter that “took extra money,” a new smartphone application that allows residents to report service issues to the city is officially up and running.

Northampton is one of 36 communities statewide participating in a Boston-led pilot program called Citizens Connect. Residents are using the app for iPhone and Android smartphones to make service requests to one of three designated city departments.

Early Monday, for example, a resident reported what he thought was a dead fox along Route 9. The Department of Public Works received the notification and picked up the animal a short time later.

Other residents have reported parking meter malfunctions on Elm Street and a pile of rubbish in the Round House parking lot.

The pilot program currently covers three types of service requests: potholes, residential trash or rubbish and parking meter malfunctions.

The city is monitoring other issues to determine if additional services should be added in the future.

Several residents have reported missing or vandalized street or speed limit signs. A sign at 134 North St., for example, is covered with spray paint and unreadable, one resident reported.

To find the link to download the app, view reports and track the status of fixes, click on the Commonwealth Connect section on the city’s website, www.northamptonma.gov.

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Route 66 forum on tap

Many residents are not “getting their kicks” on Route 66 in Northampton, as the popular song goes.

And on Wednesday, they’ll be able to share their feelings about traffic and speed limits along the six-mile stretch of road from Smith College to the Westhampton line.

The Ward 6 Neighborhood Association and City Councilor Marianne L. LaBarge will host an informational forum about Route 66 speed limits at 7 p.m. in the Ryan Road School gymnasium. A snow date has been set for Feb. 6.

No decisions are expected at the forum, which LaBarge organized after hearing from constituents reacting to a Gazette article in December that called for a rethinking of the speed limit now that the road has been reconstructed. Speed limits range from 25 to 35 mph.

City Council President William H. Dwight and David Stevens, who lives on Route 66, will lead the forum, and Mayor David J. Narkewicz and other city councilors are expected to attend.

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Yes!Northampton back

It’s been some time since we’ve heard from Yes!Northampton, but leaders of the group that emerged during the city’s successful override campaign in 2008 declared in an email last week that they are “back in action.”

The group is buoyed by Gov. Deval Patrick’s recent proposal to dramatically increase state investment in education, transportation and local aid for cities and towns. The governor proposes funding these investments with what Yes!Northampton and another grassroots organization, PHENOM, believe are a “more fair” tax structure that includes raising the income tax and lowering the sales tax. PHENOM lobbies to increase funding for public higher education.

The two groups are helping organize support for Patrick’s proposal and will meet with advocates from cities and towns across the state at a meeting Sunday in Worcester. The meeting will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Coral Seafood Restaurant, 225 Shrewsbury St.

“This plan meets the goals of Yes!Northampton: to raise revenue fairly in support of our public services,” Yes!Northampton wrote in an email to supporters last week. “We are ready to get to work to win this investment in our community!”

Chad Cain can be reached at ccain@gazettenet.com.

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