March 20, 2019 By Christian Murray
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has released the ballot items for the fifth round of participatory budgeting in the district, with a significant number of the 13 projects listed dedicated toward schools and public housing.
Participatory budgeting is a process that allows constituents to vote on how capital dollars are spent in their district on items such as school improvements, libraries and parks.
Each year, more than $1 million is allocated via participatory budgeting toward neighborhood improvements in the 26th Council District, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a section of Astoria. The most popular items are funded until the $1 million is spent.
Four out of the 13 items on the ballot this year focus on public schools–with big ticket items including the $200,000 installation of a hydroponics science lab at P.S. 150 in Sunnyside, to a $450,000 upgrade to the stage lighting at the Academy of American Studies & Newcomers High School in Long Island City.
The ballot also includes tech upgrades to the district’s public libraries; the beautification of garden space in Ravenswood Houses; improved lighting at Woodside Houses; and the improvement to outdoor space at Queensbridge Houses.
The most expensive item on the ballot is for turf space at Lou Lodati Park in Sunnyside. The project would involve adding turf inside the baseball and volley ball areas at a cost of $650,000.
The 13 projects were selected after several community meetings were held in September and October last year, where attendees pitched their ideas. These ideas were then whittled down to 13 by community members in partnership with city agencies.
“Members of our community have been hard at work for months, narrowing down hundreds of ideas to make a final ballot,” Van Bramer said. “I am incredibly proud of these final 13 projects,” he said, adding that “all of these projects are fantastic, worthy causes that would undeniability benefit our neighborhoods.”
Voting will take place from Saturday, March 30 to Sunday, April 7. District residents ages 11 and up can cast up to five votes on the projects they want to see funded.
Residents are able to vote online—with the web address yet to be released—and at 10 voting locations.The 10 polling locations, however, are only open at specified times. (Click for locations)
Over 7,000 people voted last year, with Van Bramer allocating more than $2.5 million for projects—well above the $1 million threshold.
The winning projects are expected to be announced by the end of June so they can be added to the City Council’s budget for the following year.
“I encourage all residents of the 26th District to make their voices heard. Let’s aim for a record turnout,” Van Bramer said.