Here’s what’s on the ballot for District 33 Participatory Budgeting

Newtown Creek flows between the boroughs of Brooklyn (L) and Queens (R) in New York, February 16, 20..
District 33 Participatory Budgeting ballot items include street cleanups around the Newtown Creek, cultural programming at Gowanus Houses, and more.
REUTERS/Peter Morgan

Residents in the City Council’s 33rd District aged 11 or older can vote on projects to fund in the area, as part of this year’s Participatory Budgeting.

People living in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, and parts of Williamsburg can choose from nearly a dozen crowdsourced funding proposals in the district from now until April 14. 

Following a pause of the inclusive municipal funding program during the pandemic-induced budget shortfall in 2020, Councilmember Steve Levin was one of three Brooklyn legislators to revive the program in his district this year, along with Brad Lander in the 39th District and Carlos Menchaca in the 38th. Manhattan Councilmember Ben Kallos also restarted the program in his district in the Big Apple.

“This pandemic has shown the many inequities of our city and how our friends and neighbors have risen up to fill the needs that they know are there,” said Levin in a statement. “There is no more important time to continue the [Participatory Budgeting] process and allocate funding to street level, community suggested projects that fill the needs of our community.”

Levin earmarked $30,000 for this year, and locals can vote for any four out of the 11 proposed items to spend that money on in the upcoming city budget, which takes effect July 1.

The proposals, which Levin’s office says were sourced after months of community inputs, and hours of evaluations by locals, include more resources for area public housing, money to keep parks and waterways cleaner, and career services for youths. 

Here’s a rundown of what District 33 residents can vote on:

Capital Projects

$30,000 available. Voters can select four projects. 

Gardening at Gowanus NYCHA buildings ($10,000): Residents at the three public housing complexes Warren Street Houses, Gowanus Houses, and Wyckoff Gardens will work with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to buy gardening equipment and help spruce up the lawns on their campuses. This will help beautify the area, provide greenery for residents, reduce stormwater runoff, and provide habitat for pollinators. 

Street cleanups around Newtown Creek ($8,500): The Newtown Creek Alliance is seeking funds to help clean city street ends and areas along the north Brooklyn creek, which will maintain healthy greenery and improve local’s connection to the waterway. 

Mobile science, arts, and craft projects ($6,750): Mobile workshops hosted by Beam Center will explore arts, science, and crafts through hands-on learning at parks around the district.

Fine Arts Studio for Elementary Students at PS 31 Samuel F. Dupont ($10,000): Help elementary students at the Meserole Avenue school in Greenpoint express their creativity by funding a studio stocked with materials like paint brushes, modeling tools, clay, and pens. 

Programming for Thomas Greene Park ($5,000): Friends of Thomas Greene Park want to bring more activities and programming to this Gowanus space at Third Avenue and Douglass Street, which is the main park used by local NYCHA residents. The funding will help them with annual events like Gowanus Grind and the Halloween Parade, along with park cleanups and a mural planned for the Douglass Street wall. 

Trade career introductions at IS 318 and Williamsburg High School for Architecture & Design ($10,000): TownSquare wants to introduce youngsters to trade careers like construction construction, drafting, electricians, plumbing, and welding, via workshops connecting students to professionals, unions, and companies. 

Food pantry at Taylor-Wythe Houses ($10,000): Community groups Los Sures and El Puente want to establish a regular food pantry at the Williamsburg public housing development. Funding will help them buy equipment, transportation, and supplies to provide fresh produce and other healthy goods. 

Books for kids ($5,000): Brooklyn Book Bodega aims to give 5,000 books to children across the district’s parks and public housing complexes. 

Maintaining tree health and litter cleanups ($6,000): Greenpoint Tree Care blends maintenance of trees with litter collection and community education to beautify streets across the districts. 

North Brooklyn parks maintenance ($10,000): The North Brooklyn Parks Alliance’s bid would support volunteer stewardships of lawns and playgrounds in the area by buying equipment for gardening and maintenance, such as plant material, garbage bags, rakes, shovels.

Cultural programming at Gowanus Houses ($8,000): With the help of the community group Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts NY, residents of the Hoyt Street public housing campus want to fund cultural programming and prepare for the renovation of their community center

Voting takes place between April 5 and 14 on the District 33 Participatory Budgeting website at bit.ly/D33PBVote. For more information, you can also check Steve Levin’s website or call his district office at (718) 875–5200. Levin also plans to hold pop-up in-person balloting on April 10 and 11, but he has yet to determine a time and location. We will update this story once he does.