City Council Member Brad Lander has announced the winners of participatory budgeting funding in his district, the 39th, and winners include programs that provide real time bus arrival information near subways, mobile showers for homeless residents, and infrastructure for local schools.
Begun in 2011, participatory budgeting is a program in which City Council members allow residents to allocate capital discretionary funds for various local projects. Participatory budgeting not only allows neighborhood residents to determine how portions of a public budget are spent, it also necessitates an amount of transparency from City Council members and involves the community in a grassroots democratic process.
Lander announced the winners of this cycle’s funding at the Reading Circle and Storytelling Garden of the Park Slope Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which was funded by participatory budgeting during the last cycle of voting last year.
“PBNYC is grassroots democracy at its very best. And at this moment, with so many threats to our democracy, it’s important to be reminded about the good we can do as a community, when we come together,” said Lander in a newsletter.
The 39th District cuts a swathe through Brooklyn west of Prospect Park from Columbia Heights to Park Slope to Kensington. This year, a record number of 7,145 people voted on the projects.
— Scott Esserman (@sdesserman) May 6, 2017
Some of the notable projects winners for the 39th District participatory budgeting cycle included $59,560 for soup kitchen CHiPs to bring mobile showers to local homeless residents, and $70,000 to plant 35 street trees with guard in treeless areas in Kensington, Gowanus and Borough Park. In terms of transit, another winner was an initiative to display real time bus arrival information near subway stations.
There was also investment in local schools. Awards included air conditioning at P.S. 230’s cafeteria and a STEM lab for M.S. 442. Additionally, an award was given to repave the schoolyard at P.S. 130.
— EJ Gertz (@ejgertz) May 7, 2017
An award of $7,500 will allow Local artists to visit residents with Alzheimer’s and train caregivers at the Cobble Hill Health Center. A group called Border Crossers will receive $6,000 to lead four workshops to train educators and parents to talk about race and promote equity in local schools.
Seven of the projects fell into the capital gains category, with awards up to $1.5 million, and five were “expense projects” eligible for awards as large as $50,000.
Several of Lander’s constituents took to social media to express their gratitude over participatory budgeting’s ability to help the community.
The process for participatory budgeting kicked off last fall, with 10 Brooklyn City Council districts participating this year. City Council Members David Greenfield, Laurie Cumbo and Mathieu Eugene announced winners in April.
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