Rooftop gardens, sidewalk repairs, tree plantings, smart boards for schools among choices
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Five Brooklyn council members are giving their constituents a chance to have a say in how their tax dollars are spent – including deciding which projects will get city funding – as part of the city’s 2014 participatory budgeting process.
Council members Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) Brad Lander (D-Park Slope-Windsor Terrace) David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst) and Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush-Flatlands) have all prepared ballots listing various projects for their constituents to vote on.
The lawmakers have set aside between $1 million and $2 million in discretionary funding and are asking residents who live in their districts to vote on how they want the money spent.
Ten out of the city's 51 council districts are part of the 2014 participatory budgeting process.
Voting in most of the 10 particpating council districts will take place between March 30 and April 7. For a voting schedule and a list of places where to cast a vote, visit the website of Participatory Budgeting NYC, the non-profit group that is helping to guide the process. Voters can also see a sample ballot from their district on the same website.
The winning projects in each district will receive funding in the next city budget. Districts may have more than one winning project. Some council members divide the pot of money up so that each neighborhood in the district receives funding for a project.
The budget items listed on the ballots, everything from installing traffic lights at dangerous intersections to planting community gardens to upgrading technology in public schools, were selected out of a series of public meetings the council members held in their districts earlier this year. At the meetings, ideas by various proponents, including representatives of civic organzations,were presented.
“This year’s ballot will include some great and unique ideas brainstormed by our neighbors, so I am very excited to see which ones will be chosen for funding this year. As I have often said, nobody knows their block or neighborhood like the people who live there, so it only makes sense to give the public more say over the city budget,” said Greenfield, whose district is participating in the process for the second year in a row.
Greenfield said the participatory budget vote is open to all district residents age 16 and older, regardless of immigration status or whether they are registered to vote with the Board of Elections.
More than 1,600 residents voted In Greenfield’s district last year.
Here’s a partial list of proposed budget items in each of the participating council districts in Brooklyn:
- 33rd Council District (Levin): playground repairs; sidewalk repairs between Kent and Flushing avenues; smart boards for PS 16; computer upgrades for PS 31.
- 38th Council District (Menchaca): community room for Sunset Park Library; community garden for Red Hook Library; air conditioning for PS 10 and PS 15; NYPD security cameras for Sunset Park; sidewalk extensions.
- 39th Council District (Lander): repair Ennis Playground basketball court, install security cameras in all four police precincts in district, buy industrial shredder for Gowanus Composting Center, build green roof at Windsor Terrace Library, expand sidewalks on McDonald Avenue at Fort Hamilton parkway, install benches and plantings in outdoor plaza at John Jay Educational Campus.
- 44th Council District (Greenfield): install technology upgrades for Midwood, Mapleton libraries, install new benches and water fountains at Colonel Marcus Park; plant trees on sidewalks in Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Midwood.
- 45th Council District (Williams): build culinary rooftop farm in East Flatbush; install air conditioners in schools; introduce computer technology program for senior citizens.