March 21, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has released the ballot items for the fourth round of participatory budgeting in his district, with one-third of the items based in Sunnyside and Woodside.
In participatory budgeting, residents can vote on how to spend capital funds on projects such as schools improvements, parks, libraries, and more in Council District 26, which primarily covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City. This round of participatory budgeting will see at least $1 million dedicated to neighborhood improvements.
Four items out of the 15 on the ballot are in Woodside proper, with the biggest listed ticket option a $600,000 project to renovate the girls and boys bathroom at an after school program in the Woodside Houses. The conditions in the bathroom, according to the ballot, are “very unsanitary”.
Two other projects are also proposed for the Woodside Houses, including installing additional security cameras for $500,000 and renovating the garden beds for $175,000. The garden beds project will help grow a wider variety of vegetables, and will also include provisions to build a fence around the gardens. A second green house will also be built as part of this project.
Another possible project in Woodside includes renovating the children’s room and auditorium at the Woodside Library, which comes out to $500,000. The upgrades will focus on technology to “meet the needs of our growing community,” the ballot reads.
One project from Sunnyside made it to this round of participatory budgeting, with a proposed project to upgrades P.S.150’s auditorium with a new AV system, lighting, and curtains.
The remaining 10 projects are mostly in Long Island City, and include school renovations and upgrades, tech upgrades to the Borden Ave. veterans shelter, and building an outdoor gym at Queensbridge Park.
Three district-wide projects are also on the ballot, which call for technology upgrades at multiple elementary and middle schools, planting new trees (primarily in Astoria and Long Island City), and installing bus time countdown clocks.
District 26 residents ages 14 and up can cast up to five votes on projects they want to see funded.
The ballot items were selected after several community meetings from September to October last year, in which attendees pitched capital project ideas to be added for this round.
Community members have been working hard for months to narrow down hundreds of projects to the final 15,” said Van Bramer in a statement. “All of these projects—from school playground renovations to technology upgrades at the Veterans Shelter, to bus countdown clocks—are great and would improve the quality of life for people in our community! In addition to the in-person voting locations, online voting is available again this year. I hope to see a record number of voters, making this a true community-driven and democratic process!”
Voting will begin online and in person on April 7, and run until April 15, with the winning projects to be announced by the end of June 2018, before the City Council passes the budget for the following year. The winning projects will then be included in the budget for 2019.
Online voting is done through the city council’s participatory budgeting webpage, which is not yet active. For a full list of in-person voting locations, click here.
Over 5,000 people voted in the last round of participatory budgeting for the district, and voters decided to allocate approximately $1.8 million toward schools improvements and new bus countdown clocks.