For one week, New Yorkers get a vote on how $1M in city money gets spent through participatory budgeting

Mar28 Asser_Levy_Recreation_Center

One of the possible projects is $250,000 in enhancements to the Asser Levy Recreation Center.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents in City Council Districts 2 and 4 will get a chance to vote on improvements in their neighborhood during participatory budgeting vote week starting on March 30.

Councilmembers Keith Powers of District 4 and Carlina Rivera of District 2 solicited ideas for “capital” projects this past fall and volunteers went through the suggestions and picked roughly a dozen ideas per district that residents can vote on through April 7.

Powers, who represents Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Waterside, Midtown East, Central Park South and the Upper East Side, has a handful of district-wide improvements that residents can vote on. One project, which would cost $200,000, would bring countdown clocks with real-time passenger information to bus stops throughout the district. Another project would resurface distressed roads for one mile of Council District 4 and would require $250,000 in funding. New plantings and tree guards throughout the district would cost $150,000.

Local residents can also vote for improvements to the Asser Levy Recreation Center across from Peter Cooper Village, which would provide new fitness equipment and flooring in the gym of the rec center and would cost $250,000.

Other projects throughout the district include pedestrian safety improvements in the East 60s, library renovations for PS 6 on East 81st Street, auditorium upgrades for PS 59 on East 56th Street, new bathrooms at Wagner Middle School on East 76th Street, gym renovation and floor replacement at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School on West 46th Street, technology upgrades for District 4 schools in East Midtown and the Upper East Side, security cameras facing the Katharine Hepburn Garden in Turtle Bay, technology upgrades at local public libraries and tile repair at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Rivera, whose district covers Gramercy, the East Village, Alphabet City and Kips Bay, also has some district-wide projects, including street resurfacing throughout the district, costing $250,000 per lane mile, and installing countdown clocks for the M9, M14A and M14D in District 2, which would cost $200,000.

Residents of Rivera’s district can also vote to install a lift at PS 40 on East 20th Street to help disabled people enter the building. This project would require $350,000 in funding. Another suggestion that residents can vote on is upgrades to two interior garbage compactors and the compactor room in Straus Houses at 243 East 27th Street, which costs $100,000.

Two separate projects at the Jacob Riis Houses on Avenue D are on the ballot, including renovations for the basketball courts behind the building and playground renovations including new equipment, with both projects costing $500,000 each. Another item on the ballot would provide funding for two mobile science carts for students to do laboratory work at PS 34 on East 12th Street, costing $140,000.

Other projects throughout the district that residents can vote on include upgrading the play equipment at the Lillian Wald Houses on Avenue D between East 4th and 5th Streets, designating a new water source at the 6BC Garden on East 6th Street, replacing the fence at El Jardin de Pariso on East 5th Street and gym renovations at PS 188 on East Houston.

Participatory budgeting, which started in some districts in 2011, allots each district $1 million for physical infrastructure projects and this is the first cycle in which either Council member’s district has participated.

The number of ideas that get funded depends on how the budgeting for the projects that are voted on ultimately adds up. Each City Council member in participating districts has $1 million of the public budget for capital projects, and the projects in Districts 2 and 4 range in required funding from $100,000 to $500,000, meaning that there will likely be at least two projects approved for each district.

“One of the most important parts of my job as Council member is deciding how our city budget is spent,” said Powers. “This year, I am enlisting the help of my constituents to make those decisions through Participatory Budgeting. I look forward to seeing many residents of District 4 at poll sites, as well as finding out the winning projects.”

Information about the proposals for District 4 and where to vote is available at council.nyc.gov/keith-powers/pb/8. Councilmember Powers’ office at 211 East 43rd Street, suite 1205, will serve as a poll site from Monday, April 1 through Friday, April 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Voting at the Asser Levy Recreation Center will be available on Sunday, March 31 from 2 to 4 p.m. and voting in the Stuyvesant Town Community Center will be available on Tuesday, April 2 from 2 to 4 p.m., on Thursday, April 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Sunday, April 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. More information about each proposal in District 2, as well as information about where to vote, is available at council.nyc.gov/carlina-rivera/pb/8.

Residents can also vote online at pbnyc.org/vote.

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