Here’s what’s on the ballot for District 39 Participatory Budgeting

Runners and cyclists share space in Prospect Park.
File photo by Todd Maisel

Voters in the 39th Council District have the chance to choose which projects they’d like to see funded this month, thanks to the city’s Participatory Budgeting program.

Now through April 14, residents of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Windsor Terrace, and parts of Kensington and Borough Park can weigh in on a wide range of initiatives, including bathroom renovations at PS 131, and a revamp of the handball courts at Greenwood Playground.

The participatory budgeting process dates back to 1989, but in 2011, four members of the New York City Council launched an effort to allow those they represent to allocate part of the pols’ capital discretionary funds. Since then, a majority of the Council has worked to bring Participatory Budgeting to their district, giving communities real decision-making over more than $35 million in taxpayer money on an annual basis.

The process was skipped over last year as the city stared down financial ruin at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and was technically canceled again this year. However, four councilmembers — including Brooklyn’s Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca and Stephen Levin — have decided to offer the program to their constituents on its tenth anniversary. Manhattan Councilmember Ben Kallos also restarted the program in his district in the Big Apple.

“As we begin to recover from the pandemic, PB can help us come together (though still in a socially distanced way) to build a city where we take better care of our neighbors,” Lander said in a newsletter to constituents.

Once a community ballot is finalized, projects that receive the most votes during a nine-day span are adopted in the City’s fiscal year budget. Here’s a rundown of what District 39 residents can vote on:

Capital Projects

$1.5 million available. Voters can select three projects. 

Renovate Handball Courts at Greenwood Playground ($750,000): This project would revitalize the crumbling handball courts at this playground near the Prospect Expressway in Windsor Terrace.

PS 131 Bathroom Renovations ($650,000): This project would pay for a renovation for four ancient bathrooms at this Windsor Terrace school. 

Prospect Park Children Corner Improvements ($425,000): This project would revitalize the beloved Prospect Park carousel by restoring its historic Wurlitzer organ, and pay for a new water fountain and new pathways to the merry-go-round in the south-eastern corner of Brooklyn’s Backyard.

MS 51 Dance Floor Refurbishment ($300,000): This project would pay for an upgrade to the Park Slope middle school’s dance floor to allow for premium boogieing. 

Down Payment to Create the Brooklyn Skate Garden ($300,000): This project would provide the first payment for the “Brooklyn Skate Garden” a skatepark and greenspace to honor the memory of Brooklyn skateboarder Pablo Ramirez.

Expense Projects

$50,000 available. Voters can select four projects. 

Redesign Prospect Park Drive ($15,000): This project would pay for a study to identify changes needed to make the Prospect Park loop more suitable for cyclists, pedestrians, and scooter riders now that the park is off-limits to cars. 

Open Streets Programming ($8,000): This project would pay for ten days of open streets programming for youngsters through the open-space nonprofit Street Lab. Programs offered by Street Lab include a portable reading room and drawing studio, homework hubs, and a no-touch obstacle course. 

Kensington Neighborhood Farm Stand + Women’s Craft Outlet ($20,000): This project would fund neighborhood group People In Need as they aim to help address food insecurity by operating a farm stand in the neighborhood, as well as a stand for local women to earn income by selling their crafts.

More Street Trees in Kensington ($7,000): This project would help beautify Kensington by planting more street trees.

Kensington Tenant Rights ($15,400): This project would pay for a multi-lingual “know your rights” brochure for tenants in Kensington, printed in Spanish, Bengali, Urdu, Hebrew, Russian, and Uzbek. 

Furnish Teen Spaces at Two Libraries ($10,000): This project would pay to revamp the “teen” spaces at the Park Slope and Pacific Street branches. 

Community Garden Concerts ($5,000): This project would pay for Brooklyn musicians to have the chance to perform in many of the community gardens across District 39.

100,000 Eco-Friendly Diapers for Families in Need ($10,000): This project would help the Brooklyn Diaper Project pilot a new model of diaper distribution in District 39, while working to form a network of distribution to families in need.

Voting takes place between April 5 and 14 on the District 39 Participatory Budgeting website