Brooklyn Heights

How to spend $1 million? Voters get to decide

February 27, 2013 Paula Katinas
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By Paula Katinas

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

What would you do if you were given $1 million? Well, the city isn’t handing out money like candy. But voters in neighborhoods all over Brooklyn will get the chance to decide how their tax dollars are spent on capital projects thanks to a City Council process known as participatory budgeting.

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Over the past several months, council members have asked constituents to come up with ideas on projects that could be funded for $1 million or less. In a series of town hall meetings in council districts, constituents came up with a variety of proposals. The ideas ranged from parks renovation to installing additional streetlights to repaving roadways.

The next step in the process will take place over the next few weeks as council members hold another set of town hall meetings, called expos, to give constituents a chance to review the various proposals.

A final vote in each district will take place in April.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to come together make a choice on where they want to see their tax dollars pent,” said Marnee-Elias Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst, who has taken part in town halls sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Bensonhurst).

Greenfield is holding an expo on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at PS 205, 6901 20th Ave. at 6:30 p.m.

“What’ great is that these are projects that the community members themselves came up with,” Elias-Pavia said. She found the process empowering, she said.

Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights-Greenpoint) is holding three expos in different parts of his council district. The first one will take place on Monday, March 11, at the Polish-Slavic Center, 176 Java St., at 6 p.m. A second expo is set for Tuesday, March 19, at the YMCA, 30 Third Ave., at 8 p.m. Lander will hold a third participatory expo on Sunday, March 23, at 1 p.m., at a location to be announced.

Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope-Carroll Gardens) has scheduled an expo for Thursday, March 21, at the Park Slope Library, 431 Sixth Ave., at 6:30 p.m.

This is the second year that New York City has invited residents to take an active role in the budget process.

Last year’s winning projects included $150,000 for the E-Tech Campus for CAMBA Beacon Program at P.S. 269; $80,000 for new books and equipment for the Kensington Library; and $100,000 for transportation for seniors and a Meals-on-Wheels delivery van in East Harlem.

“It has been very exciting to hear all of the residents’ creative and insightful ideas over the past few months to improve their block or neighborhood. The upcoming project expo is a great chance for everyone in Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst to learn more about the projects that will appear on the final ballot in April and decide which one they want funded with the million dollars I have aside for this initiative,” Greenfield said.

Some of the projects that have been suggested by residents and will be on the final ballot include the resurfacing of various streets across the district , installing security cameras at schools, houses of worship and other vulnerable sites, and adding pedestrian countdown clocks to dangerous intersections.



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