From restrooms to tree beds, the chance to vote for $1 million in funding to West Side projects is back once more — and early voting begins on Thursday evening for the participatory budgeting process.
“Participatory Budgeting empowers residents like YOU to decide how to spend public money in our community,” said City Council Member Erik Bottcher in an email announcing the voting process. “I believe that government should be inclusive, collaborative and accessible, and that’s what Participatory Budgeting is all about — I can’t wait to see the great projects you chose for our community!”
First implemented in 2011, Participatory Budgeting is a district-specific funding process that allows residents to funnel discretionary funding into District 3 infrastructure projects that cost at least $50,000, have a lifespan of at least five years, and benefit the public. Parks, schools, libraries, public housing and other public spaces are eligible for participatory funding. Community volunteers work as delegates to collect, evaluate and prioritize ideas sourced from District 3 residents to make up the yearly ballot of potential projects. Representatives from Bottcher’s office told W42ST that volunteer participatory budgeting delegates worked to liaise between city agencies and community members to refine and define this year’s proposals, including:
STREET SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES
- District-Wide Street Tree Beds Expansion — $350,000 would be allocated to enlarge tree beds, capture stormwater and promote tree health
- Theater District Pedestrian Safety Upgrades — $300,000 would be allocated to W41st through W43rd Street between 7/8th Avenue, where curb extensions would be installed on W41st to W43rd, and W42nd Street would be outfitted with wider sidewalks
- Bathroom Renovation at Three Lower District 3 Schools — $450,000 would be dedicated to updating the restroom facilities at Quest to Learn school in Chelsea, the High School of Fashion Industries in Chelsea and NYC iSchool in Soho
- PS 3 Auditorium Upgrades — $350,000 would be dedicated to updating the West Village school’s stage lighting and PA system
- Water Bottle Refilling Stations at District 3 Schools — $80,000 would be allocated to install water bottle refill stations at schools across the district
- Andrew Heiskell Library HVAC Project — $400,000 would be dedicated toward funding for a new HVAC system at the Andrew Heiskell Library for the Blind in Chelsea
PARKS AND RECREATION
- Mathews-Palmer Playground Comfort Station Improvement Project — $500,000 would be dedicated to initial funding for a renovated restroom at the W45th Street Mathews-Palmer Playground
- Water Irrigation at Oasis Community Garden — $350,000 would be allocated to the W52nd Street community garden for additional water supply
- Water Irrigation at Jane Street Garden — $350,000 would be dedicated to a water irrigation system for the West Village community garden
Projects that won funding last year included $150,000 for additional trees and information care tags planted across the District, $250,000 to update computers and digital tools across libraries in District 3, $350,000 for technology upgrades in district schools, including new smart boards and ChromeBooks for public school students, and $350,000 to fix the auditorium air conditioning system at PS 111 on W53rd Street, where community meetings and elections are held in addition to school usage.
If you’re curious to learn more about each potential project, you have the option to attend City Council Member Erik Bottcher’s Participatory Budgeting Expo and Early Voting event on Thursday, March 23 from 7-8pm at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The first 200 registrants will also receive a free day pass to the museum. Those ready to cast their vote can do so at tomorrow’s expo, online beginning March 25 here, or in person at Manhattan Plaza (400 West 43rd Street bw 9/10th Ave) on March 25, March 26 and April 1.