March 23, 2015 By Christian Murray
Astoria residents who live south of 36th Avenue– along with those who live in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside –will get to vote next month on how $1 million in city funds should be spent in the 26th Council District.
Residents will be able to choose up to 3 projects from a list of 27 proposals that they believe are worth funding. The project that receives the most votes following the election will be funded—followed by other popular items- until the $1 million is exhausted.
The proposals (see sample ballot for full list below) include funding a bike lane network in Long Island City; adding trees between 49th and 69th Streets in Woodside; renovating playgrounds and parks; upgrading school equipment; beefing up library security; as well as funding a pedestrian safety project in Dutch Kills.
The vote, which is scheduled to take place between April 11 and 19, is part of what’s known as the participatory budgeting process. The program, introduced to the 26th City Council district for the first time this year, allows all residents 16 years and older to determine those projects they want funded.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that he was not surprised by the items that are being put up for a vote, since they involve improving schools, parks, libraries and traffic safety.
“Good neighborhoods are ones that have good schools, well cared for parks, well funded libraries and good clean safe streets,” Van Bramer said. “That is what people care about the most and these are the items we see.”
Nine meetings were held throughout Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria and Long Island City last fall, and hundreds of attendees put forward an array of ideas. These ideas were whittled down by about 140 budget delegates to 27 in concert with Van Bramer and various city agencies.
“I think the process has been successful so far,” Van Bramer said, who is urging people to go out and vote. There are 10 locations scattered throughout the district where residents will be able to cast their ballots (see list below).
“A lot of people have got more involved in the community in a meaningful way as a result of the process,” Van Bramer said. “It has encouraged people to come out and present their ideas.”
The 27 items will be presented to the community early next month, where residents will be able to take a closer look at what they involve.
A meeting is scheduled for April 6, from 7 pm to 9pm, at the Sunnyside Community Service Center [43-31 39th Street], where all the proposals will be discussed and debated on their merits.