April 10, 2015 By Michael Florio
Councilman Costa Constantinides has been knocking on doors, putting out phone calls and speaking to people at train stations all in an effort to get people to come out and vote next week to determine how $1 million should be spent in the district.
Constantinides is hopeful that thousands of people will cast their vote—in a process called participatory budgeting, where residents are able to choose which projects from a list of 18 should be funded.
Some of these projects include (see ballot below): the creation of a dog run; adding curb extensions to the intersection at 21st Street and Astoria Blvd; upgrading the fitness equipment at Whitey Ford Field; creating a music room at P.S. 2; and transforming a parking lot at I.S. 126 into a playground.
The councilman is planning a large media event Monday in an effort to bring greater attention to the vote. “You will see me all over the neighborhood next week,” he said.
The vote officially kicks off Sunday, April 12, and runs through Sunday, April 19. The major polling booths, however, don’t open until Monday, April 13.
Constantinides said the polling booths are spread throughout the district and that they will be open 12 hours per day.
The locations are: Councilman Contantinides’ office (31-09 Newtown Avenue); Bohemian Hall (29-19 24 Avenue); the Community Board 1 office (45-02 Ditmars Boulevard); Goodwill Apartments (4-21 27 Avenue); and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker’s office (75-35 31 Avenue).
Residents 16 years and older can vote, as long as they have the proper identification proving that they live within the district. Residents will be able to vote for up to five of the 18 proposed ideas.
The project that receives the most votes will be funded—followed by other popular items- until the $1 million is exhausted.
The cost of each project varies but the maximum amount per proposal is $500,000. This ensures that at least two projects will be selected.
Constantindes said he has been hearing positive reviews about all of the projects that have been proposed.
“I hear different things from different people,” he said. “There are strong advocates for the dog run, and there have even been posters for it hung along Ditmars Blvd.”
He said that parents have been in favor of all the school improvements and technology upgrades, he added. “I have heard good things on every single project.”
Constantinides is not giving away his personal choices.
“I don’t have a horse in the race, I have eighteen,” he said.
While he can only fund the winning projects [up to $1-million], he said that through the participatory budgeting process he does hear what people want.
“This is very helpful,” he said. “We will look at the results and evaluate them.”
He hopes the voting process is successful next week and said he is committed to doing participatory budgeting again next year.
“We believe in this process,” he said.