Democracy in action!
The votes have been tallied, and the winners of this year’s participatory budgeting process have been announced — with funds going towards a down payment for a skatepark, a permanent food pantry at a Williamsburg public housing development, and better WiFi at local public schools.
Brooklyn city councilmembers Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, and Carlos Menchaca revived Participatory Budgeting in their districts this year after a pandemic-induced pause in 2020, allowing their constituents aged 11 or older a vote on funding proposals for the city’s next budget, which takes effect on July 1.
Almost $3 million was up for grabs from the three legislators’ discretionary funds to pay for projects, including $2 million in Menchaca’s district, $1.5 million in Lander’s, and $30,000 in Levin’s.
After eliminating the text confirmation previously required to vote online for the budget, Menchaca’s office claims some voters cast multiple votes, and therefore the pol elected to boost their participatory budget funding amount to include all of the projects on the ballot.
An unofficial 7,315 votes were cast by residents of District 38, but the councilmember’s office claims there was widespread voting fraud, due to the elimination of a text message confirmation system seen years before in order to be more inclusive — which proved to be a necessary tool in order to prevent residents from voting twice.
Here are the proposals that won enough votes for funds:
District 39 (Brad Lander)
Borough Park, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Street Waterfront District, Gowanus, Kensington, Park Slope, and Windsor Terrace.
$1.5 million available, with voters being able to vote for three projects. A total of 5,446 residents cast their vote.
- $650,000 will go toward renovating the ancient bathrooms at Borough Park’s PS 131, which serves overwhelmingly low-income and immigrant pupils. 60 percent of voters chose that proposal, with 3287 votes.
- $300,000 for a downpayment to create a “Brooklyn Skate Garden,” which got 56 percent of the votes with 3057 votes.
- $425,000 for improvements to Prospect Park’s Children’s Corner, including a restoration of the carousel’s historic Wurlitzer organ, which got 53 percent with 2874 votes.
The remaining money will fund expense projects including $20,000 for a neighborhood farm stand and women’s craft outlet in Kensington, $15,000 for a study to design a safer Prospect Park loop, $10,000 for distributing environmentally-friendly diapers to needy local families, and $7,000 to plant more street trees in Kensington.
“These amazing winning PB projects show how we can rise from this crisis together,” said Lander in a statement. “Enormous props to the volunteers who put together this amazing slate of projects, even the ones that did not win were really great.”
District 33 (Stephen Levin)
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, and parts of Williamsburg.
$30,000 available, with voters being able to vote for four projects. A total of 2,432 residents cast their vote.
- $10,000 will go toward a permanent food pantry at the Taylor-Wythe public housing complex, operated by community groups Los Sures and El Puente. The proposal got 47 percent of the votes with 1142 votes.
- $5,000 for the Brooklyn Book Bodega to distribute 5,000 books to kids across the district this summer at parks and public housing developments (45 percent with 1085 votes).
- $10,000 for gardening supplies at the three public housing complexes Warren Street Houses, Gowanus Houses, and Wyckoff Gardens (37 percent with 893 votes).
- $5,000 for an introduction to trade careers by TownSquare for students at IS 318 and Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design (34 percent with 817 votes).
“Thank you to all the volunteers and voters for making this process a success in these difficult times,” said Levin in a statement.
District 38 (Carlos Menchaca)
Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Greenwood Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and Windsor Terrace.
$2 million available, with voters being able to vote for three projects. An unofficial count of 7,315 residents cast their vote.
Councilman Carlos Menchaca elected to boost his participatory budgeting amount another $300,000 to include all of the projects on the ballot in the city’s budget, claiming several counts of duplicate voting made his office unable to call an official count.
- $500,000 will go to restoring the crumbling schoolyard at Sunset Park’s PS 69. The schoolyard will be outfitted with additional gate openings, outdoor lighting and new basketball hoops.
- $100,000 will go to rewiring the WiFi reception in two Greenwood Heights schools (PS 10 and K290) that both experience signal issues.
- $180,000 will fund the planting of 100 trees along Third Avenue in Greenwood Heights and Sunset Park to reduce air pollution from the Gowanus Expressway.
- $650,000 will upgrade the intercom system at the Red Hook’s Summit Academy Charter School and PS 676.
- $260,000 will fund planting trees with protective guards across the district.
- $600,000 will fund the installation of surveillance cameras along Sunset Park’s Seventh Avenue, pending a study from New York’s Finest.