Democracy in action: Brooklynites vote to stop Prospect Park puddle

Democracy in action: Brooklynites vote to stop Prospect Park puddle
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Cyclists and runners will score a flood-proof new roadway in Prospect Park thanks to a revolutionary, American Idol-style experiment in civics.

The city will repair a puddle-ridden portion of the park’s beloved loop after two lawmakers hatched a plan to let Brooklynites vote on how to spend $2 million in public cash.

The big winner is a $205,000 project intended to fix a shoddy drainage system on Park Drive near Park Circle, where a rainstorm-induced mini-lake often forms — obstructing a roadway used by runners, cyclists, rollerbladers, and, at times, cars.

Cash will also go to repairing drains next to a walking path that borders Long Meadow near Grand Army Plaza that’s popular among dogs, dog owners, and stroller pushers.

The revamp also includes adding ten trash cans near Long Meadow, repaving the pedestrian path, and reconstructing the lawn adjacent to it.

Roughly 2,200 people voted on the so-called “Participatory Budget” put forward by Councilmembers Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush) last weekend.

“It’s what local government is all about; it’s democracy at it’s best,” said Lander.

About 650 people voted for the park makeover, which received the more cash than any other project.

Lander, who allocated $1 million for the constituent service popularity contest, said other winning projects include:

• A $150,000 bathroom renovation at PS 124.

• A $165,000 Gowanus Canal composting system.

• A $100,000 district-wide tree planting initiative.

Prospect Park Spokesman Paul Nelson said a similar roadway project was already in the works, but that the extra cash will speed things along. It will likely be complete in 2014.

“[It] will allow us to complete this work much sooner than originally planned,” Nelson said. “We are grateful.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.