By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
If you had $1 million, how would you spend it? When Councilman David Greenfield gave the residents of his district a chance to say what they wanted the city to spend money on, their answer was that they wanted funding for projects that would increase safety and security on local streets.
Residents in different parts of Greenfield’s district who voted on how a $1.1 million pot of city money is to be spent locally selected such things as countdown clocks at busy intersections and security cameras on dark streets, according to Greenfield.
Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Bensonhurst-Midwood) asked his constituents to take part in a participatory budget process to decide how $1.1 million from the city budget is to be used.
He announced this week that a total of five projects have been selected for funding following a vote in which 1,610 local residents took part.
The projects are: security cameras at locations around Borough Park as determined by the NYPD ($200,000); security cameras at locations around Midwood ($200,000); pedestrian countdown signals at dangerous intersections in Bensonhurst ($200,000); resurfacing of streets in Borough Park ($300,000); and pedestrian countdown signals at dangerous intersections in Midwood ($200,000).
“I am thrilled with the results of this great experiment in open government,” Greenfield said. “Participatory budgeting gives residents the chance to have a direct and real say in the future of their community, so I am pleased that so many people from Borough Park, Midwood, and Bensonhurst took the time to volunteer as a budget delegate or voted last week for their favorite projects. These $1.1 million in projects will truly improve the safety and quality of life of all local residents and will have a great impact on our neighborhoods for years to come,” he said.
Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst, who took part in the participatory budgeting process, said she enjoyed it. “The whole process was wonderful,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “I had a chance to hear what the people of the district are concerned with,” she said.
The participatory budgeting process began last summer, when Greenfield began hosting a series of public meetings to allow residents to suggest ideas they have in mind for their block or neighborhood. Several dozen residents then volunteered to serve as budget delegates and helped prepare the final ballot that the 1,610 residents voted on last week.
The projects will be funded by Councilman Greenfield in this year's budget, which is due to be completed before July 1, and their implementation will begin during the next fiscal year.
Elias-Pavia said the countdown clocks will be installed at the intersection of Bay Parkway and 75th Street. “We have a high population of seniors, as well as young children, in that area. The countdown clocks are needed. It helps to know how long you have to cross the street before the light changes,” she said.
Residents ages 16 and older took part in the final vote at locations around the district, including Greenfield’s district office, senior centers, and houses of worship, schools, and community events.
The projects they chose from on the final ballot were all suggested by local residents at several meetings hosted by Greenfield over the past nine months.
“I hope that many of the people who took advantage of this unique opportunity will stay involved in their local community and government, and I look forward to working with them again in the future,” Greenfield said.
Several council districts across the city had participatory budgeting events. PBNYC reported that more than 10,000 residents voted on funding for projects in their districts.