It’s called Participatory Budgeting, and under this program the residents of Councilman Eric Ulrich’s district brainstorm and put together a ballot of projects to be voted upon.
The brainstorming took place at various meetings in Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park over the past few months, and from those meetings nearly 75 potential projects were collected. A group of budget delegates reviewed the suggestions and sent all the eligible ones to the city for pricing estimates.
In the end, a list of around 20 projects were returned from which the delegates had to whittle down to a smaller list of items that would appear on the ballot that residents from all three communities would vote upon in April.
The budget delegates met last Thursday, and here are the items that made the final ballot:
1) Technology Upgrades - $75,000 each for the following schools: PS 90 Horace Mann and PS 66 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Richmond Hill) and PS 97 Forest Park and PS 306 New York City Academy for Discovery (Woodhaven).
2) Construction - $300,000 worth of auditorium renovations for PS 64 Joseph P. Addabbo (Ozone Park).
3) Parks – A $250,000 renovation of a 9/11 Memorial in Forest Park. This may include some sort of mural along with landscaping, pavers and benches.
4) Parks – The addition of Emergency Call Boxes throughout Forest Park to improve safety. Technically, this would go through the NYPD as they would decide the best places in Forest Park to place them. They cost $7,000 each and we would be getting 20 of them (for a total of $140,000).
5) Parks – Improvements to Equity Park. Across from the American Legion there is a large empty space that used to be a tennis court. It is proposed to convert that into a nice park with benches, trees, bocce ball courts, etc. Total cost for this project is estimated at $800,000 – but for this year, we are only able to vote for $400,000 meaning that it will need to come back next year for the rest.
6) Parks – Refurbishment of Lt. Clinton L. Whiting Square at 91st Avenue and 84th Street. This would include $240,000 worth of improvements - landscaping and benches - for the World War 1 memorial.
7) Parks - $175,000 worth of upgrades (new fencing and benches) to the Forest Park Dog Run at 85th Street and Park Lane South.
8) Libraries - $100,000 each for technology and security upgrades for Ozone Park and Richmond Hill.
You will be allowed to select up to five items from the ballot. Voting will take place for most of the month of April, and we will have several voting areas within Woodhaven.
Participatory Budgeting only works if people participate ,so we will make sure that every resident has ample opportunity to vote. Start thinking about it now. Review the eight items above and decide which five should get your vote.
The ballot this year is weighted heavily towards parks project, Woodhaven in particular. That can be credited to the large amount of involvement from our community.
The ballot will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, which takes place on Saturday, March 21, at noon at American Legion Post 118, 89-02 91st Street.