Committee Using Participatory Budgeting to Address Public Safety
Participatory Budgeting update from Rachel Fine of the Public Safety, Public Health, and Sanitation Committee:
The first meeting of the Public Safety, Public Health, and Sanitation Committee was a huge success. Our group is the smallest of all of the committees, but boy are we mighty!
Our group consists of individuals of all different ages, backgrounds, and parts of District 39. But despite (or perhaps because of?) our many differences, we worked incredibly well together and made some huge strides forward at our first meeting.
We began by recapping what had been discussed over email. A few members had sent out information related to questions that came up at the budget delegate training. Then Trina, our facilitator, passed around data from the NYPD CompStat for District 39. We’re working to make sure that all of our decisions are grounded in data, research, documented need, and what has been shown to work. The CompStat data will help us see where crime is the highest in the district, which will help us make key decisions regarding safety recommendations. We didn’t get too much into the CompStat data at our first meeting, but I have no doubt this information will come in handy further down the line.
The bulk of our meeting time was spent working through the list of community suggestions and deciding which projects we would pursue. We were able to consolidate everything into eight major areas:
- Street lighting
- Blue safety phones
- Security cameras
- Solar trash cans (and more trash cans in general)
- Permanent E-waste receptacles
- Permanent recycling receptacles
- Snow plows for narrow streets
- Capital project related to mosquito control (if this is possible!)
We identified questions and information we needed in each of these areas and folks volunteered to take on whatever they could. Every single person in the group volunteered to take on at least one piece. We are a hard working bunch!
Our meeting was scheduled to go from 6:30 to 8:30, but we were so efficient that we got through everything on our agenda by 7:45. At that point in time we were pleasantly surprised by a reporter from the Gotham Gazette who wanted to interview us about our experience! Everyone happily stayed a few extra minutes for the group interview and had fun reflecting on the process so far. It was great to hear everyone’s perspectives on PB and how they got involved. (Look for the article coming out soon!)
For my part, I’ve been excited about Participatory Budgeting since I first heard about it a few months ago. But seeing how well it’s working so far has exceeded my highest expectations. Can’t wait for the next meeting!
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.