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Voting for Participatory Budgeting is open in five Brooklyn districts until April 10

prospect park - participatory budgeting
Dozens of capital projects, including improvements at Prospect Park, are included in this year’s Participatory Budgeting cycle. Brooklynites can vote for their favorite projects until April 10.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The voting period for the five Brooklyn City Council districts taking part in this year’s Participatory Budgeting cycle is coming to a close this Sunday, April 10. Here are the districts participating and the projects proposed for each one.

What is participatory budgeting?

Every spring, the mayor and the City Council work together to build the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Part of that process, which (usually) ends on July 1 when the newly amended budget takes effect, is deciding which organizations will receive a cut of each council member’s capital funds.

Participatory Budgeting was officially launched by four former councilmembers, including now-Comptroller Brad Lander, in 2011, in a bid to democratize the budget process.

Over time, the process grew and grew, and in 2019, 33 of the city’s 51 districts took part. That growth was derailed by the pandemic, though, when the city decided to temporarily suspend Participatory Budgeting. Last year, four members — including Lander — decided to bring PB back to their districts.

Constituents submitted their ideas for the upcoming fiscal year last fall and winter. Those ideas were then vetted by District Committees, city agencies, and the council itself before the ballots were finalized. Voting is open to constituents from April 2-10, and the final projects will be announced on the week of April 17.

rendering of skate garden funded with participatory budgeting
Last year’s winners included a new skate garden, which was alloted $300,000 from then-councilmember Lander’s district.Loren Michelle

Can I vote in my district?

This year, 14 council members citywide decided to take part in the democratic financial process, with just five of Brooklyn’s 16 districts included. All residents of participating districts who are at least 11 years old can cast their votes online or in-person until Sunday.

Those members and districts are:

  • Jennifer Gutiérrez, District 34 — Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood, Queens
  • Chi Ossé, District 36 — Bedford-Stuyvesant and northern Crown Heights
  • Alexa Avilés, District 38 — Red Hook, Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, and parts of Windsor Terrace, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park
  • Shahana Hanif, District 39 — Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington
  • Rita Joseph, District 40 — Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Last year, the guerilla participatory budgeting cycle headed by past Brooklyn councilmembers Lander, Stephen Levin, and Carlos Menchaca funded a new food pantry, capital improvements at public schools, and new gardening supplies for public housing complexes.

Not every proposal needs to focus on physical improvements or supplies — one of District 39’s past winning proposals was funding for a self-defense course for Muslim women in the district. Shahana Hanif, who worked in Lander’s council office before winning the election for the seat last year, ran on a platform including expanding participatory budgeting. Hanif’s constituents are casting votes on two ballots — one for capital projects and one for expense funding.

Councilmembers Gutiérrez, Hanif, Ossé, and Avilés are offering in-person voting at their district offices and around the neighborhood during the coming days.

The Projects

Councilmembers can allocate their capital and expense budgets to participatory budgeting projects, and each have different rules. Capital funds must be used for public, physical infrastructure projects that cost at least $50 and will last at least 5 years. Expense funds can be used for projects run through local organizations — like District 39’s self-defense classes — that cost at least $5,000. 

The proposed projects are listed below. Register online to get more details, read your neighbors’ comments on each one, and cast your vote. 

District 34 (Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood, Queens)

  • $300,000 for pedestrian safety and public space improvements in North Brooklyn
  • $600,000 for adult exercise equipment at Cooper Park
  • $125,000 for technology upgrades at the Lyons Community School
  • $56,000 for technology upgrades at IS77/Joseph F. Quinn in Queens
  • $150,000 for renovations at PS81Q/Jean Paul Richter in Queens
  • $300,000 for upgrades at the dog run at Maria Hernandez Park

District 36 (Bed-Stuy and northern Crown Heights)

  • $60,000 for a computer lab update at P368K/Star Academy
  • $56,000 for seven new filtered water bottle fountains at Bedford Academy High School
  • $500,000 for new trees and sidewalk repairs districtwide
  • $350,000 for water service upgrades at the Edens Community Garden
  • $350,000 for a new multimedia studio at MS 35/Stephen Decatur

District 38 (Red Hook, Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, and parts of Windsor Terrace, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park)

  • $250,000 for audio equipment at PS 310/The School for Future Leaders
  • $350,000 for a music room at PS 94/The Henry Longfellow School
  • $200,000 for new technology at PS 96/Seth Low
  • $350,000 for tech upgrades at PS 71
  • $88,000 for new water fountains at PS 69/Vincent D. Grippo School
  • $200,000 for new technology at PS 015/Patrick F. Daly

District 39 (Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington)

Capital Projects

  • $300,000 to modernize bathrooms at PS 154
  • $500,000 to restore the Esdale Bridge at Prospect Park
  • $175,000 for an indoor plant lab at PS 131
  • $500,000 for schoolyard improvements at PS 107/John W. Kimball
  • $300,000 for a new gym partition at PS 146/Brooklyn New School and Brooklyn Collaborative School
  • $750,000 to renovate Prospect Park’s Bartel Pritchard Square

Expense Projects

  • $7,000 for “Youth Organizing for Menstrual Equity”
  • $7,6000 for “Building Bangladeshi Women’s English Language Literacy Through Cooking and Crafts”
  • $15,000 for “Organizing Together for Dignified Work: Domestic Workers and Employers”
  • $8,000 for “Celebrate Mexican Culture in Kensington”
  • $12,000 for a new workstation with an attached crib/playstation for babies and toddlers at the Borough Park Library
  • $20,000 for “Nature Walks for Neighbors with Dementia”
  • $10,000 for “Big Brass Music Lessons and Concerts for Kids”
  • $7,500 for “Say Cheese! Cameras for 5th Grade Photography Club”
  • $20,000 for a new mural in Windsor Terrace
  • $20,000 for “Bike Rides for People with Disabilities”
  • $15,000 for “Art Spaces in Vacant Places”

District 40 (Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens)

  • $50,0000 for new picnic tables at Prospect Park
  • $218,000 for new trees and tree guards across the district
  • $500,000 to reconstruct staircases between the Concert Cavilion and Breeze Hill in Prospect Park
  • $550,000 for new audio/visual equipment at PS 139/Alexine A. Fenty
  • $500,000 to repave pathways at Parade Grounds Park
  • $550,000 for improving audio/visual equipment at PS 6
  • $250,000 to resurface district streets
  • $130,000 for new pathway lighting in Prospect Park

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