By Carol Tannenhauser
It’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) time again. Confused about what that means? No disrespect meant, but think of it as a game.
Your Council Member (should they choose to participate) — in District 6, Gale Brewer, who did — has a minimum of $1,000,000 in their PB pot.
The first step is for members of the community to submit ideas for capital-improvement projects in the neighborhood: infrastructure items, like playgrounds, dog runs, and benches, as well as technology for schools, such as laptops.
“Qualifying projects must cost at least $50,000 and have a lifespan of at least five years,” Council Member Brewer’s spokesperson told us. “Funds for this program can be used for physical improvements that benefit the public.”
- The window to submit ideas is September 12 through November 11. Ideas can be submitted at Council Member Brewer’s District Office, located at 563 Columbus Avenue (87-88), or online at: https://ideas.pbnyc.org/page/about.
Next comes the proposal-development phase, when volunteers join “delegate committees” to develop the ideas that are submitted into “project proposals,” and work with city agencies to estimate project costs. Delegates narrow down proposals and select projects that best meet the needs of the community.
- The proposal development phase will take place from October to January.
Once proposals have been determined, Budget Delegates and residents get out the vote and prepare for a nine-day community vote. (Make no mistake about it, electioneering is a big part of the game.)
- This year, the vote will take place March/April.
Winning projects are included in New York City’s upcoming fiscal-year budget. Staff and stakeholders evaluate the process and oversee the implementation of winning projects by agencies.
It’s easy to conceptualize Participatory Budgeting as a game, but the “prizes” are very real. In 2021, participatory budgeting paid for:
1. Security Cameras on Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus, & Riverside Drive: 672 Votes, $320,000 to install eight security cameras on Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus, and Riverside Drive to deter crime and and ensure public safety. Locations determined in consultation with NYPD.
2. Jessie Isadore Straus School Infrastructure Improvements (P.S. 199, grades K-5, 270 W. 70th St.): 617 votes, $300,000 to upgrade & repair 2 existing student restrooms (replace fixtures, stalls, floor/wall tiling, ADA accessibility).
3. Greening Broadway: Trees & Tree Guards on Broadway above 72nd Street: 592 Votes, $250,000 to install approximately 35 trees & tree guards on the sidewalks along Broadway. This would make the avenue a more attractive destination, is environmentally sound, & offers additional shade.
4. Center School Technology Grant (M.S. 243, grades 5-8, 100 W. 84th St.): 578 votes, $117,000 to purchase 12 Promethean Boards & 30 laptops with 1 laptop cart to ensure each classroom has a smart board & laptops that are connected to the smart boards. This project will ensure that the school has technology deployed to the classrooms to support an enriched & interactive learning experience.
Turn your ideas into reality! Again, the deadline for idea submissions is November 11. Ideas can be submitted at Council Member Brewer’s District Office, located at 563 Columbus Avenue (87-88), or online at: https://ideas.pbnyc.org/page/about.
We’ll keep you posted.