May 10, 2019 By Christian Murray
Residents voted to spend $450,000 on local libraries, $400,000 on tech upgrades to neighborhood schools and $200,000 on a hydroponics science lab at a Sunnyside school—among other projects–when they went to the polls last month to determine how $1 million-plus of city funds should be spent in the district.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced the results at Windmill Community Garden, located in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City, this afternoon.
Residents of the 26th Council District—which encompasses Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a western portion of Astoria– selected the winning projects when they voted between March 30 and April 7 in a process called participatory budgeting.
Residents got to vote on 13 proposals, that were selected by volunteers over several months. Voters, who had to be at least 11 years old, had to select up to five projects they wanted funded.
The most popular items up until a total of $1 million is reached are typically funded under participatory budgeting. However, Van Bramer said that he added an additional $1.05 million, citing “the quality of the projects.”
The proposal that received the most votes—3,484 in all—was for $400,000 of tech upgrades at five schools in the district—PS 112Q in Long Island City, PS 150Q in Sunnyside, PS 166Q in Astoria and The Academy of America Studies in Long Island City. The funds will be spent on items such as laptop carts, desktop computers, projectors and interactive boards.
The second most popular project—with 2,278 votes–was for tech upgrades at five public libraries in the district. The Woodside, Broadway, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Court Square branches will each receive $90,000 in funding.
The third most popular item was for a hydroponics science lab at P.S. 150Q in Sunnyside. The project, which generated 2,022 votes, will result in $200,000 being spent on a STEM classroom where students will grow food and learn about nutrition, land use and sustainability.
Residents voted to spend $200,000 on bathroom renovations at P.S. 112Q and $200,000 on bus countdown clocks throughout the district.
Van Bramer said that he would allocate $600,000 in city funds to upgrade the bathrooms at Ravenswood Community Center. The project was on the ballot but did not get the votes to be automatically funded.
“It is always so exciting to join with members of the community to reveal the winners of our annual Participatory Budgeting initiative and to celebrate after months of hard work,” Van Bramer said today.
“Participatory Budgeting is truly democracy in action and I am proud to allocate more than $2 million this year to six projects that will greatly benefit our community.”
The funding for all these projects will be allocated next month as part of the City’s 2020 fiscal budget. The projects will go through a scoping, procurement and construction process over the following two years.