Participatory budget goes to the dogs

This summer, the views won't be the only attraction at East River State Park.
The Brooklyn Paper / John Barclay

It will soon be a dog’s life on the banks of the East River thanks to 729 ballot-casting Brooklynites.

A pup run in East River State Park was one of five projects voters endorsed in North Brooklyn in this year’s participatory budget process, an increasingly popular and refreshingly democratic initiative by some councilmembers to determine how to divvy up funding in their districts.

The dog run, which will cost $450,000, will be the only place in Williamburg south of McCarren Park where pet owner can legally let their pups run free, said Mark Sallinger, a committee member on the Friends of East River State Park, which proposed the pooch park.

“The number of dogs in Williamsburg has grown to 7,000, based on some estimates,” said Sallinger. “There’s a real need for a space for dogs to run around. It’s hard for people to walk 20 minutes to get to McCarren Park, and that dog run is small and always crowded.”

Dogs are usually never allowed in the East River State Park or in any other state park, but Sallinger said the state has agreed to make an exception for the dog run, which he hopes will open by the end of the year.

The office of Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) will fund the five most popular projects, accounting for slightly more than $1 million, in an attempt to help constituents get involved in the political process.

“It’s a good thing whenever you can increase transparency and get the community involved in making decisions that affect their day-to-day lives,” said Levin.

In total, 2,632 civically-minded individuals cast votes for the top five projects, which also include:

• District-wide tree planting: $100,000

• Technology funds for MS 8: $200,000

• Technology funds for PS 31: $188,000

• Playground restoration and beautification for PS 34: $120,000

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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