April 18, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
Five projects totaling $1.8 million, including several school upgrades, won this year’s Participatory Budgeting process in Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s district.
Participatory Budgeting allows constituents to vote on how capital dollars will be spent in their district. More than 3,600 people came out to vote for this year’s session.
The project that received the most votes with 1,437 was the special needs playground for P4 @ Skillman, located at 24-30 Skillman Ave.
This $250,000 project involves the installation of customized playground equipment that will target the needs of children on the autism spectrum grades K through 8. The new equipment will include ramps, slides, game boards and monkey bars.
The next most popular item, with 1,169 votes, was a $500,000 playground upgrade for P.S. 112, located at 25-03 37th Ave. According to the PB ballot, that school’s play yard needs resurfacing and new equipment, and there is minimal play space for Kindergarteners.
Other winning items include $350,000 basketball court renovations at both Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses (891 votes), a $50,000 bathroom repair at P.S. 111 (886 votes) and $300,000 for new “bus bulbs” in Dutch Kills (888 votes).
Bus bulbs are sidewalk extensions that give more room for people waiting to board; they will create a seamless path from the sidewalk and the subway station entrances, according to Van Bramer’s office. The bulbs will be installed on 31st Street and 36th Avenue and 39th Avenue.
The Council Member decided to allocate more to Participatory Budgeting than the $1 million he originally pledged due to excitement over the process this year, his office said.
“Residents came together and said loud and clear how they wanted to spend our city’s money, and every project they chose is a fantastic investment in our community,” Van Bramer said.
“Because so many people made their voices heard, I’ve decided to allocate an additional $800,000 over the $1 million promised so that residents can see these community improvements come to fruition. From school playgrounds and new basketball courts to bathroom upgrades and pedestrian safety, I’m sure these projects will make our community a better and more vibrant place to live.”
Voter turnout for this year’s PB was up 160 percent compared to last year.
Vam Bramer chose these five items based on where votes started to drop off, according to his office.