March 19, 2015 By Michael Florio
Astoria residents will have five locations where they can vote on how $1 million of city funds should be spent.
Councilman Costa Constantinides, who announced 18 proposals that residents can vote for under his participatory budget earlier this month (see full list below), has provided the times, dates and locations where residents can vote.
Residents will be able to vote from April 13th to April 19th between 9 am to 9 pm at Constantinides’ 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).
Constantinides said he picked these locations because they are accessible to most residents.
“We wanted sufficient sites in northern and southern Astoria, west of 21st Street and in the Jackson Heights and the East Elmhurst portions of my district,” he said.
Constantinides said pop-up stands will be set up near train stations, schools, hospitals and libraries, all areas that generate a high level of foot traffic. However, at this time the exact location of these are still in the works.
“We will know closer to the dates,” he said. “The weather will play a great factor in this.”
The ballot will be available in English, Spanish, Greek and Bangla/Bengali.
Residents 16 years and older can vote, as long as they have identification proving that they live within Constantinides’ district. Residents will be able to vote for up to five of the 18 proposed ideas.
The items that are being put up for a vote include upgrades to public schools; traffic safety items; park improvements; to the creation of a dog run at the Triborough Playground Lot C.
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.
Constantinides is hoping that thousands of residents will come out and vote.
“We are hoping people are excited and want to be a part of this process,” he said. “Everyone wants a say in how their tax dollars are spent and what goes on in their neighborhood.”
He said he is working on spreading the word to residents by speaking at local civic association and community board meetings. He said he will also be making phone calls and going door-to-door to ensure that residents know where and when to vote.
“We really are making an effort to inform people,” he said. “We want to make sure they come out and vote.”
He intends to get the word out to schools in order to ensure the younger crowd come out and vote. He said he has reached out to Long Island City High School and will be reaching out to other schools in the district. He hopes teachers will tell their students that they should vote.
Lastly, he is using social media, both Facebook and Twitter, to help get the word out.
“We want people’s voices to be heard,” he said.
His office is working on creating online voting for next year’s participatory budget.
The items on the ballot were the result of community input, following four public meetings throughout Astoria and surrounding areas.
Community representatives whittled a list of 250 ideas down to 18.