West Siders! Here’s your chance to influence public spending on a local level, with projects in the running for a share of a $1 million pot that range from tech upgrades for local schools and libraries, and the resurfacing of DeWitt Clinton Park dog run, to adding more trees to the neighborhood. But you don’t have long to decide — voting for District 3 Participatory Budget spending has begun online, there’s an opportunity to fill in your ballot at in-person polling sites on Saturday and it all concludes on Sunday.

Participatory Budget Hell's Kitchen
There is $1 million of discretionary budget to spend in Council District 3 this year. Photos: Damon Webster, Diversity Pictures & Phil O’Brien

Participatory Budgeting, a democratic process implemented in 2011 on a district-by-district basis (though briefly suspended during the first years of COVID-19), allows voters to determine how to allocate $1 million of discretionary funding to infrastructure projects across District 3. Over $35 million of taxpayer money has been annually allocated throughout districts. Participatory Budget projects must cost at least $50,000, benefit the public, and have a lifespan of at least five years. Improvements to schools, parks, libraries, public housing, and other public spaces are eligible through the PB process. 

“I believe government should be inclusive, collaborative, and accessible — and Participatory Budgeting is a perfect example of that. I’m proud to bring it back to Council District 3 and work with the community how to spend $1 million this year. Thanks to all our volunteers for putting together an incredible list of ballot proposals for this year and thanks to all the voters for making their voices heard,” said City Council Member Erik Bottcher.

In January, community members across the district were invited to submit proposals for potential projects in Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Flatiron, Hudson Square, Times Square, the Theater District, the Garment District and Columbus Circle. Volunteer budget delegates narrowed down submissions to 10 potential projects, with a selection to be finalized and implemented into the city’s upcoming fiscal year budget commencing July 1. Previous selections have included a new public park in Hell’s Kitchen, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning updates in libraries, as well as bus countdown clocks. 

The following projects are up for funding in this week’s vote: 

Broadway Boulevard Plaza This proposal would fund a shared street from W38th to W39th St and a public plaza from W39th to W40th St in the Garment district. The area is currently the site of a smaller pedestrian plaza housing marketplaces and art exhibitions from The Garment District Alliance. Proposed cost: $300,000

The Garment District Alliance want to improve their public plazas — this is the area between W39/40th Streets on Broadway being used for the Passage exhibit earlier this year. Photo: Diversity Pictures/Garment District Alliance

Basketball Court Resurfacing The Chelsea Recreation Center at 420 W25th Street would receive funding for a new basketball court surface for safer conditions and better play. Cost: $500,000

Additional Street Trees Across District 3 This proposal would fund installation of new tree planters throughout the West Side, including species information and care tags for each tree. Hell’s Kitchen is home to 1,860 trees alone, with 54 species (the Thornless Honey Locust the most prevalent) represented on an interactive map designed by the NYC Parks Department. Cost: $150,000

Trees Hells Kitchen
More trees could be coming to Hell’s Kitchen. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Reggie Fitzgerald Triangle Renovation This project would fund the repair and restoration of a broken stone wall around a West Village community garden at W4th and Horatio Streets. The wall would be replaced with a loop fence and a namesake plaque in honor of Reggie Fitzgerald, longtime Community Board 2 member and West Village activist for the LGBTQIA community, New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, landmark preservation, and public safety. Cost: $340,000.

Dog Run Surface Replacement at DeWitt Clinton Park The proposed project would fund surface repair for the park’s dog run at W54th Street and 11th Ave. Some local dog owners have previously petitioned for a softer surface, citing pet injuries from holes in the hard asphalt. The proposed repair comes as the neighborhood’s other prominent dog run at Pier 84 closes for renovations. Cost: $250,000

DeWitt Clinton Dog Run
Dog owners at DeWitt Clinton Park Dog Run are hoping to get improvements. Photo: Damon Webster

PS 3 Charrette School Auditorium Upgrades This project would fund installation of the stage lighting and AV technology at the 490 Hudson Street West Village elementary school, enhancing assemblies and performances. Cost: $350,000

PS 111 Adolph S. Ochs School A/C Upgrades Funding for this proposal would go toward the replacement of a broken air condition system at the 440 West 53rd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave) Hell’s Kitchen elementary school’s auditorium. In addition to school and community meetings, the space is used as a federal, state, and district polling location. Cost: $350,000

PS 111 Hell's Kitchen school
PS 111 hope to get their broken air conditioning replaced. Photo: Damon Webster

Water Fountain Upgrades for City-As-School This proposal would fund the installation of seven water fountains on each of the floors at the 16 Clarkson Street Greenwich Village high school, with the option to add two additional fountains. Cost: $54,000

Technology Upgrades for All District 3 Schools A proposal to provide all District 3 public schools with additional tech equipment, including computers, smart boards (whiteboards that use touch detection for user input, have collaborative document function, and save data to cloud services), and Chromebooks for enhanced student learning. Hell’s Kitchen schools include PS 51, PS 111, PS 212, PS 35, M479 Beacon High School, M296 High School of Hospitality Management, and the Food and Finance High School. Cost: $350,000

Food and Finance School
The Food and Finance High School is one of the Hell’s Kitchen schools in need of finance for technology. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Technology Upgrades for Council District 3 Libraries This proposal would replace and refresh technology across libraries in District 3, including new computers. Hell’s Kitchen’s local District 3 library is the NYPL Columbus Branch at 742 10th Avenue (corner of W51st St). Cost: $250,000

District residents can vote online now as well as at in-person polling locations on Saturday (April 9) from 11am to 4pm at the following addresses:
MANHATTAN PLAZA 484 W43rd Street (corner of 10th Ave)
THE LGBT CENTER 208 W13th Street (bw 7th Ave/Greenwich)
FULTON HOUSES SENIOR CENTER 119 9th Avenue (corner of 18th St)
PENN SOUTH, COMMUNITY ROOM 8A 343 8th Avenue (corner of W27th St)
ABINGDON SQUARE (corner of Hudson Street and 8th Ave) — this site will be weather-dependent.
Anyone interested in volunteering at one of Saturday’s poll sites can do so by signing up here.

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