Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Participatory Budgeting Winners

Last weekend, more than 2,200 residents in City Council District 39 (which includes Cobble Hill) came out to vote for top choices amongst many great project ideas to be granted one-millions dollars from Councilman Brad Lander's discretionary funds. Though this 'participatory democracy' style of governing has been used in other countries before, this was the first time it came to NYC. In the end, seven projects chosen were selected:
    1.    Renovation of two dysfunctional bathrooms at PS 124 ($150,000, 958 votes)
    2.    Innovative community composting system near Gowanus Canal to turn 1 ton/day of food waste into soil ($165,000, 919 votes)
    3.    Planting 100 new trees on blocks throughout the district with few or no trees ($100,000, 767 votes)
    4.    New technology for PS 130 and PS 154 ($140,000, 758 votes)
    5.    Repairing Prospect Park pedestrian paths to prevent flooding, and adding trash cans in the park ($205,000, 648 votes)
    6.    Repairs and safety improvements at the dangerous Prospect Expressway/Church Avenue pedestrian crossing ($200,000, 606 votes)
    7.    New books and equipment for the Kensington public library to enhance the branch's use for meetings, storytelling, rehearsals, and small performances promoting Kensington's cultural diversity ($80,000, 582 votes)

To hear more about the result, listen to this interview the Councilman and several participants did on the Brian Lehrer show.

In addition to these initiatives which will be moving forward, in his summary statement Councilman Lander announced his "commitment to push forward on several other projects on the ballot that did not receive enough votes to qualify for a share of the $1 million, but around which community residents have coalesced:
    •    Getting "bus countdown clocks" at bus shelters.
    •    Working with Kensington's Bangladeshi community to create an "International Mother Language" monument as part of the renovation of Dome Playground.
    •    Address flooding and other issues at the Ft. Hamilton F/G subway station (we've already made some good progress here).
    •    Getting DOT to repave 50th Street in Borough Park.
    •    Facilitating more community access and WiFi at the Carroll Gardens library.

Also, get started thinking about ideas for next year's vote.  While we hope the Cobble Hill Association's 'Fix the Ditch' idea gets underway before then... if other funding sources don't come to light, perhaps this will be the way to kickstart out neighborhood's important project to improve physical connections to our neighbors on the waterfront.

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