With an assist from democracy, residents vote for security

Councilman Jumaane Williams and Kirsten John-Foy (right) remain upset at NYPD cops who detained them after the West Indian parade in September.
Community Newspaper Group / Eli Rosenberg

If the council’s new participatory budgeting process allows citizens to truly voice their desires, then Flatbush residents want their community to be safer.

Councilman Jumaane Williams’s constituents asked to chime in on where $1 million in city tax dollars should be spent overwhelmingly voted to have the money put into two projects designed to make the city more secure: $400,000 for security cameras at six intersections to assist police and another $150,000 for the installation of flood lights at five parks.

The decision was very different than a similar participatory budgeting process in Park Slope, where residents wanted the $1 million spent on park renovation, composting and tree-planting.

Williams (D–Flatbush) called the experiment in grassroots budgeting — in which both he and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) freed up more than $2 million dollars for projects designed and voted on by the community — a resounding success.

“When you empower residents with the full power of democracy, they can achieve great things,” said Williams. “Participatory budgeting is transforming our community for the better.”

The historic effort to crowd-source city projects was a first for the city and an experiment that is expected to grow next year to include more council districts.

Two other projects the $1 million would fund included:

• A $350,000 community resource center for youth and senior recreation, as well as job training and health programs.

• A $150,000 technology project that will provide new desktop and laptop computers for students at the CAMBA Beacon Program at PS 269.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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