Giving The People What They Want in Brooklyn: Participation
In the Press
Brooklyn residents have an idea for you to consider. Hundreds and hundreds of ideas. Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander has open-sourced his constituent services. Rather than sit back and field complaints and requests from constituents and then respond on a case-by-case basis, Lander is experimenting with participatory budgeting, which seeks out residents' priorities that they want their elected representative to fight for. Lander represents Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington, and had no trouble hearing from more than a thousand constituents with ideas that they felt should be a priority. Many of the ideas are evergreen standbys: cracks on every/specific sidewalks, potholes that need repairing, more public benches, etc. Other ideas were continuations of projects that have been initiated elsewhere in the city, like countdown clocks at pedestrian crosswalks or time-of-arrival indicators for the F and G line trains. Many ideas were ruled ineligible because they didn't fit inside within the guidelines of the process—projects had to be categorized as capital expenditures costing from $35K to $1 million.
Approximately 1,000 constituent ideas are being sifted through by more than 100 volunteers assigned to seven "budget delegate" committees. They are winnowing the submissions down to a few dozen that will be voted on after a Public Budget Expo scheduled for 6:30p, March 14th at the Park Slope Armory. We also have been doing some winnowing and present some standouts from the massive number of suggestions.
Idea: Boat launch for the Gowanus
Where: Carroll Gardens
Possible? It's an eligible idea! "Think about what kinds of boats you're talking about- kayaks? motorboats?"
Idea: Bringing back historic clock on Columbia Street at Union Street
Where: Columbia Street Waterfront
Possible? Eligible, and with a lot of community support. Multiple people suggested that the historic clock be returned.
Idea: Boro Park mural on a brick building facade to beautify the neighborhood and draw attention to the neighborhood's history and diverse culture. Building-Side facade of old theater (Regal furniture-store)
Where: Borough Park
Possible? Maybe. "Cost may be too low - projects must cost more than $35,000; Global art project/mural feedback: Our office is unclear if painting a mural is a capital project, as painting is not, but perhaps if it is part of a larger project? We will need to figure this out as part of the vetting project."
Idea: Dog Run
Where: Many, many places
Possible? Eligible! Brooklynites are apparently sorely lacking in places to run their dogs, and are eager to remedy that situation.
Idea: Security Cameras and lighting in and outside subway stops
Where: Almost everywhere
Possible? Eligible! Politically active people in Brooklyn don't seem to fear Big Brother; they fear crime, and want cameras and more lights attached to every available surface it seems.
Idea: More curbside garbage cans
Where: Literally everywhere
Possible? Maybe; it's complicated. "Global trash can feedback: fixed trash cans are eligible if part of a larger street enhancement project; the "big belly" solar-powered compactors may be eligible if we can convince DSNY/OMB that we are "networked", we need to figure out the details here."
Idea: Something to discourage vermin from leaving [Greenwood] cemetery
Possible? Not likely. "Not sure what this entails; project must have useable life of 5 years, so rat traps are likely Ineligible"
Idea: Educate residents to trap / neuter / return stray animals
Where: Boro Park
Possible? No, although maybe they can form some project synergy with the people in Kensington trying to contain their zombie vermin. "Projects must by physical improvements - this is a program expense"
Idea: A series of "Polite on Bikes" kiosks, mostly volunteer-staffed. These distribute bike rules and "Polite on Bikes" signs (hang on backs of bike seats) to bikers who take the "polite on a bike" pledge.
Possible? Eligible! And actually the best idea we read.
Idea: Neighborhood information kiosks for posting fliers about neighborhood events
Where: Multiple locations
Possible? Maybe. "Must cost at least $35,000."
Idea: Ear plugs should be made available to commuters at the F/G Church Avenue Station- vending machine
Possible? Not possible! "Not a capital expense"
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.