2013-05-03 / Front Page

Participatory Budget Winners Named

By Dan Guarino

Councilmember Eric Ulrich has announced the results for the second year of the Participatory Budget Project for Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

In total, more than 13,000 votes were cast across the districts involved and 45 projects were selected.

In District 32 nearly 1,000 votes were cast and the winning projects were as follows:

1. Technology Upgrades at PS317, PS114 and Gym Safety upgrades at Scholars Academy (665 Votes)

2. Dayton Towers Upgrades (621 votes)

3. YMCA Upgrades (581 Votes)

4. Traffic Island Landscaping (531 Votes)

5. Mobi Mats for ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) beach access (418 Votes). Mobi Mats are a portable rollout pathway access system.

6. Broad Channel Library upgrades (438 Votes)

7. Rockaway Freeway Dog Park Upgrades (365 Votes)

NYC Participatory Budgeting is a project which began last year when Ulrich and three other members of the City Council pledged to allocate up to $1 million in capital funds, for the 2013 fiscal year, to community projects proposed by members of the public.

After being able to view and discuss all the submitted proposals, the residents within each district would then have the opportunity to vote on which projects the funding would go towards.

In total last year, $1.3 million dollars in capital projects were funded by Ulrich based on the results of the public voting. This year, four more members of the City Council have joined the participatory budget process.

As explained on the Participatory Budgeting Project website participatorybudgeting.org, this is “a different way to manage public money, and to engage people in government. It is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It enables taxpayers to work with government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives.”

Since the idea’s inception in Brazil in 1989, similar participatory budget processes have been used successfully in more than 1,500 cities in Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Within the U.S. and Canada, it has been used in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, New York City, and Vallejo, California.

Residents within Council District 32 were invited to submit their proposals for capital projects, i.e. projects that would provide non-removable equipment or involve permanent physical infrastructure changes, which would benefit the public.

Through a simplified online form, they were able to detail their idea, how and why it would be good for people in the district and the location for which it was being proposed.

Ideas could be submitted under several categories, such as transit, public safety, housing, education or arts and culture and more.

Afterwards, several district-wide sessions were scheduled where the public could review each proposal, meet the submitter and ask questions.

Said Ulrich, “I want to thank everyone that contributed to the participatory budget process this year.”

A total of $1.5 million will be allocated to these needed projects.

“Despite the fact that many residents remain displaced after Hurricane Sandy,” he noted, “the people of Rockaway and Broad Channel still came out to vote and have proven that they want a say in how their tax dollars are spent. I look forward to bringing the process back next year and working with my constituents to expand their voice in the budget process.”

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