The residents, mostly from the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Gowanus and Kensington, participated in voting for a number of projects that they would like to see implemented in Councilman Brad Lander’s district.
The councilman set aside $1 million as part of the participatory budgeting process, which was implemented six months ago by the City Council to help get residents involved in democratically planning the future of their communities.
From 2011 t0 2012, groups of people gathered across Lander’s district to help brainstorm ideas on how to improve the community. From new school or library technology, safer streets to updated parks, Lander said hundreds of ideas were jotted down but ultimately only seven were chosen to go forward into full proposals.
Last weekend, the community came out to cast their votes on which projects would be funded.
And on Sunday, Lander revealed the winning projects. The first is the renovation of two dysfunctional bathrooms at P.S. 224, which would cost $150,000 and received 958 votes.
The second is an innovative composting system near the Gowanus Canal to turn one of food waste into soil each day. The projected cost is $165,000 and that project received 919 votes.
There were 767 votes in favor of planting 100 new trees on blocks throughout the district with few or no trees. The estimated cost is $100,000.
The community also voted to see new technology at P.S. 130 and P.S. 154, a project that would cost $140,000 and received 758 votes.
There were 648 votes for repairing the Prospect Park pedestrian paths to prevent flooding, and adding trash cans in the park, which is set to cost $205,000.
Residents also voted for repairs and safety improvements at the Prospect Expressway/Church Avenue pedestrian crossing. That project received 606 votes and is expected to cost $200,000.
New books and equipment for the Kensington public library to enhance the branch’s use for meetings, storytelling, rehearsals and small performances to promote Kensington’s cultural diversity also made the cut with 582 votes. That project is expected to cost $80,000.
The top seven projects will be placed in the FY2013 capital budget at adoption in late June by Lander.
“I was deeply heartened by the energy that so many have put in since we launched the effort last fall, attending brainstorming meetings, joining delegate committees, and voting on the final slate of projects,” he said in a statement.
He noted, however, that he is committed to push forward on several other projects on the ballot that did not receive enough votes to qualify for a share of the $1 million, but around which community residents have coalesced.
The first is getting “bus countdown clocks” at bus shelters, working with Kensington's Bangladeshi community to create an "International Mother Language" monument as part of the renovation of Dome Playground, address flooding and other issues at the Ft. Hamilton F/G subway station, getting DOT to repave 50th Street in Borough Park and facilitating more community access and WiFi at the Carroll Gardens library.
Lander told residents not to expect construction to break ground soon.
“Some projects can be tackled this year, while others will require more time and review before they are finalized and constructed,” he said.
To get involved in next year's process, he urged residents to start by attending the neighborhood assemblies which will be held next fall to gather ideas for spending next year's participatory budgeting funds.