Participatory Budgeting delegate committees get to work
Participatory Budgeting update from Maggie Tobin of the Streets & Sidewalks Committee:
Monday evening, November 6th, the budget delegates from the 39th District all met at P.S. 230 in Kensington to kick off the long and arduous (but truly fun and fascinating!) process of deciding how we would like to spend a million dollars from Councilmember Brad Lander’s discretionary funds in our collective community. It was a very interesting evening, especially because I met so many new people from all over the district, each with wonderful ideas on how we can improve our neighborhoods.
The first part of the meeting was spent discussing what makes a capital project eligible for consideration. In a nutshell, the project must cost at least 35,000, have a “useful life” of at least five years, and involve the construction, reconstruction, acquisition, installation or be a physical public improvement. We played PBNYC Jeopardy (my team got creamed) to help us identify what sort of projects might be considered.
Following the introduction to the PB process, we broke into several groups: Streets and Sidewalks, Transit, Education, Parks and Recreation, Environment, Public Safety, Public Health and Sanitation, and Culture and Community Facilities. All of the groups had a facilitator to ensure that each budget delegate was able to participate in the discussion. I chose to be in the Streets and Sidewalks group as I would personally like to see some beautification projects underway along the beleaguered Church Avenue.
In Kensington, we do not have a park or community center to call our own. We are a very diverse and somewhat segregated population in desperate need of a place to gather and have the opportunity to interact with one another. I would love to see a few small plazas (rather grandiose word for a smattering of benches) in the vicinity of Church Avenue. Two places in particular would be in front of Walgreens, the other would be an addition to our little green triangle at 35th and Church. Our main shopping area is in need of a complete makeover but any little help could get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Someone else in our group suggested we get some old fashioned street lamps (like those in Ditmas Park) for the Church Avenue/ McDonald area. Others mentioned more trees, perhaps in planters as the underlying subway has prevented the city from planting any along McDonald Avenue.
One neighbor felt that all of the beautification was putting the cart before the horse as the poor conditions of our streets and sidewalks in that area make it very difficult to walk around without the threat of breaking one’s ankle. Another neighbor who was wheelchair-bound expressed her concern about the dangers of fast moving traffic signals (especially on Ocean Parkway) and inaccessible sidewalks due to the high curbs. Suggestions from other neighborhoods included beautifying the Carroll Street Bridge area by the Gowanus Canal with benches and lamp posts and the installation of bike racks all around the district.
All in all, it was a very fun and productive meeting. I am thrilled to be part of this process, especially at this time when there is so much distrust/discontent with the way our government typically does their business. I really appreciate the courage and hard work Brad and his team have put forth to make this all happen and look forward to seeing the fruits of our labors throughout the district!
Maggie Tobin, Budget Delegate from Kensington
What does your neighborhood need? An improved park? Safer streets? New school technology? In participatory budgeting, you give your ideas and City Councilmember Brad Lander has set aside $1 million to fund them. And your votes will decide which projects get funded.