2013-10-11 / Top Stories

Participatory Budgeting Comes To East End

By Miriam Rosenberg

It was a full house at both initial Participatory Budgeting meetings held on October 1st and 2nd for the 31st Council District. Photo by Silaka Cox It was a full house at both initial Participatory Budgeting meetings held on October 1st and 2nd for the 31st Council District. Photo by Silaka Cox What would you do with $1 million? Put in better lighting in the Far Rockaway business district? Fix broken streets? Can you think of something to make the quality of life better for all of those who live here?

Whatever it is, you now have an opportunity to voice your opinions.

Councilman Donovan Richards has his own ideas how he would do spend the money, but he wants to hear from those who live in the district.

On October 1st and 2nd, Richards’ office hosted what would be the first of many meetings with area residents to decide what projects will be allocated funding through participatory budgeting.

“As the newest council member to the New York City Council we are proud to start the process for participatory budgeting,” said Richards. “We encourage everyone to share their thoughts on how their tax dollars should be spent.”

It was standing room only at last week’s meetings as residents, community leaders and business representatives learned about the process.

Orientation meetings for volunteer budget delegates were scheduled to take place the week of October 7th. Assemblies or community meetings will then be held to brainstorm project ideas.

Project ideas will then made into full proposals with the help of experts. Community members will attend project expos, much like the science fairs, where the projects are laid out. Residents will vote on the proposals that make the final ballot and then the implementation of the winning projects takes place.

“We want hundreds of people to come to the assemblies,” said a representative for Participatory Budgeting for New York City. “Last year one district had 1,000 votes. We hope to get double that here. It’s up to the people to get the word out.”

Beginning in Brazil in 1989, Participatory Budgeting has developed worldwide. This is the third year that city council members in New York, who allocate the money from their discretionary funds, have taken part in the process. Councilman Eric Ulrich of the 32nd Council District has been involved since its inception during the 2011-2012 cycle.

Since then 17 projects have been funded. Among them are Argus cameras for the 100th Precinct; technology upgrades at PS 47, PS 317/MS318, PS 114 and gym safety upgrades at Scholars’ Academy; library upgrades at the Broad Channel, Peninsula and Breezy Point Libraries; and Rockaway Freeway Dog Park upgrades.

This year is the first time that the residents of the 31st City Council District will take part.

Each year Richards will alternate participatory budgeting between Rockaway and the main land.

To find out more about Participatory Budgeting go to pbnyc.org. You can also contact Pesach Osina at Richards’ office.

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