A book-mobile, a playground overhaul, and a dirty-bathroom clean-up are top priority city projects, according to residents of neighborhoods from Gowanus to Greenpoint who put their heads together to decide how $1 million of public money should be spent.
More than 2,000 voters turned out from March 30 to April 6 for the so-called “participatory budgeting” process to choose pet projects for the 33rd Council district, which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, and parts of Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Boerum Hill. Fixing the dilapidated playground in Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park got the support of neighbors to the tune of $450,000 — and to the delight of area activists.
“The playground has been debilitated in recent years and kids are getting injured,” said Mike Schade, a member of the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance. “We are so grateful that we will be able to fix it up.”
The playground’s wooden planks are splintery, the paint is chipping, and the benches are in rough shape, a park regular said.
Affordable housing group Saint Nick’s Alliances scored $198,000 for its Booklyn Shuttle, which will drive around Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint offering free books to poor kids. The group needs an additional $127,000 to get the buggy on the road, but the first windfall is much appreciated, a group rep said.
“We’re incredibly grateful that North Brooklyn residents recognized the importance of fostering literacy in our community,” said Greg Hanlon, spokesman for the advocacy group.
Other winners included a handful of playgrounds in public housing developments, the Gowanus Houses’ community center, and the bathrooms at PS 261 in Boerum Hill, where many toilets currently do not flush, many stalls will not lock, and there are no soap and towel dispensers, according to the New York Post.
The schoolhouse’s royal flush harkens back to the 2013 citizen pick of Carroll Gradens’ PS 51, where nasty lavatories got a high-tech upgrade in the neighboring 39th District.
The million-dollar chunk may sound like a lot of cash to let the citizenry throw around, but the city is planning to spend a total of $55.2 billion in 2015.