Participatory Budgeting Transit Committee Seeks Best Projects for Scarce Funds
Participatory Budgeting update from Sara Nordmann of the Transit Committee:
The Transit Committee of District 39‘s Participatory Budgeting Initiative met on Nov. 16th at PS 230 for our first real gathering as a group.
That evening, Bill Henderson, the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee (PCAC) to the MTA, discussed with us the feasibility issues concerning the project proposals submitted during the community-meeting process. He emphasized that even small projects cost much, much more than us regular folks would expect, particularly when they involve interrupting regular transit service.
Fortunately, the project that was highest-ranked in importance at the community meetings--a remodeling of the often-flooded entrance ramp at Fort Hamilton Parkway Station--could come in under the $1 million mark if we use our capital funds judiciously. Other suggestions, like the installation of elevators at certain subway stations within the district, are worthy projects but are too expensive for Councilmember Lander’s discretionary budget this year.
After Mr. Henderson helped us cross some projects off our list, we launched into a debate--which ones should we prioritize? At first, discussion centered on whether we should attempt to choose a project that would distribute the funds evenly through the district, or whether it would be acceptable to select a project that would bring the greatest good to one location.
Because the entrance-repair package at Ft. Hamilton was voted a “Top 3” choice the most times of any project at the general community meetings, there was a consensus within the group that should be our top pick. Second-choice was a little more evenly distributed among the remaining options; it ultimately came down to funding more and improved bus shelters. Third place went to reopening a long-shuttered exit at the Bergen St. station on the F line.
At the Committee’s next meeting on December 7th, we’ll learn about the project proposal form and review how to evaluate the project proposals. In the following weeks, a few cold-hardy delegates will head out to project sites to document potential improvements. Say “hi” if you see us in your area!
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.