Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) now knows how his constituents want city money spent in their district. Through the participatory budgeting process, residents voted on which projects would receive $1 million from the city.
There were 1,116 votes cast and six projects will be funded. The winning projects were: Emergency equipment for the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps.; a new roof for the Queens County Farm Museum; a technology upgrade for Martin Van Buren High School; security cameras for three locations in the district and, at Cunningham Park, picnic area enhancements and a new music stage.
Van Buren High School’s $129,000 technology upgrade, which received 445 votes, was the only individual school proposal to pass. The PS 33 proposal for smartboards received 308 votes, but they were not enough to beat the Cunningham Park projects, which received 424 and 422 votes, respectively; $675,000 of the $1 million will be spent in Cunningham Park.
“Participatory Budgeting gives residents an unprecedented opportunity to make decisions on how city dollars get spent in our community,” Weprin said in a statement. “I saw a tremendous interest in and a very positive response to this process.”
The process was developed in Brazil, implemented in Chicago, and came to four New York city council districts last year. This year eight districts throughout the city participated, including Dan Halloran’s (D-Whitestone) and Eric Ulrich’s (R-Ozone Park) districts.
After his arrest for bribery, Halloran issued a press release congratulating the winners in his district, but his powers to distribute have been revoked and now Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) control the funds.
Comrie said that he will honor the results of the Participatory Budgeting vote.