The rapid growth of Lakewood, now the largest municipality in Ocean County and the seventh largest in the state, has meant increased demand for services between developers and contractors, and utility companies.
The newly formed Builders Development Group, which arose from talks between the Lakewood Utility Advisory Council (LUAC) and the New Jersey American Water Company, recently met with officials from the water company to hear about a New Services Department that would better serve local contractors and developers.
Among other improvements, New Jersey American Water Company, 100 James, Street, Lakewood, established a special team that will be available to contractors and developers Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the James Street facility or via email, phone or fax. The goals of team are better communication, immediate contact, accessibility, and a speedier processing of service requests.
Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein said, “It is gratifying that Kevin Kirwan of N.J. American Water Co. has taken steps through the Lakewood Utility Advisory Council to help our builders and developers. This will be a win-win for everyone.”
Greg Stafford-Smith, the chairman of LUAC, said, “We thank Kevin Kirwan and his associates for bringing this plan, which was started 18 months ago, to fruition. We endorse and support them for doing a good job.”
The team is made up of Crissy Forrester, the Operations Supervisor and point person for the Builders and Contractors Development Group; and Carol Saunders, operations specialist. Both have extensive office and field experience, and both are available to assist builders and contractors.
Kevin T. Kirwan, senior director, Coastal North Field Operations of N.J. American Water, said, “Because we have had a good dialogue with the Lakewood community, we were getting some feedback that some of the methods used to process services for construction in the Lakewood community, a very fast, dynamic, and sometimes moving at the speed of light state, needed some improvement.
“We decided to put a team in place right at the front door. We are removing some trees so we can see people coming. We have the hours of operation here. All this will help you get the service you need.
“Dealing with a big company can be awkward at times, going through different processes, but we are confident with the team we have here we can help you get your service request processed and the installation in the quickest amount of time. At the end of the day, we’re here to deliver service to you.
“Although we cannot shortcut certain things, we can definitely speed up the process that we have to go through so hopefully you’ll find this beneficial for you folks.”
Forrester said, “We are committed to providing special courteous and efficient service to all our customers with respect and fairness. All customers are welcome to come in to hand in paperwork or to explain any project or service. Be sure to copy both of us in case one of us happens to be out for the day. We’ll make sure we are not duplicating anything.
“Feel free to fax your application. We will stamp it in immediately. Once we verify that you have water and sewer in front of the property, we are going to call you within three (3) business days to make sure you have service available and we’ll call you to let you know we are going forward with it. We’ll send you an application if you haven’t sent one in and we’ll go forward with the process and apply for permits. We can also give you assistance with the application and the application process.”
Richard Larsen, area manager for Henkels & McCoy, Farmingdale, said, “This is a good step to take care of some of the problems we have. Creating a team solely for this purpose is something they needed to do.”
Others in attendance were Steven Reinman, acting Lakewood Municipal Manager and executive director of the Lakewood Industrial Commission (LIC); Sam Rabinowitz, member of the LIC; Aron Mansoun, Ann Construction; Brian Flannery, a partner in the engineering firm of FWH Associates (Flannery, Webb and Hansen); Seth Haber, Ray Builders; Aaron Engelman, Destiny Homes; Charlie Schonbrun, Silverline Construction; Jeremiah Johnson, Andrew Johnson, and Greg Matthews of Bil-Jim Construction and Abe Auerbach of Regency Development. [TLS]