Lights! Tech! Action! PB voting is underway

BY SAM BLEIBERG | Upgrades to parks and green spaces, new tech for libraries and schools, improved public safety and better bus stop info all have a place among the worthy projects vying for Council District 3 residents’ support this week, as part of the annual Participatory Budgeting process. The program allows locals, age 11 and up, to cast their vote for up to five of 11 ballot items. The top vote-getter will be fully funded, with other projects also getting funding until the allocated $1 million in discretionary cash has been fully distributed.

Maury Schott, left, and Brooke Schooley think historic lighting would make Seventh Ave. South more neighborhood-like and “less like a highway.” Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Residents of District 3 (Village / Chelsea / Hell’s Kitchen) can vote online (pbnyc2018.d21.me) anywhere, including at several area polling sites, as well as at City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s district office and, for the first time, at LinkNYC sidewalk kiosks. Voting closes Sat., April 15. Traditional (non-online) voting can also be done at the poll sites and Johnson’s office.

“Participatory Budgeting is democracy in action,” Johnson said. “It gives every constituent an opportunity to take part in the budget process.”

The process started at last Thursday’s Project Expo at P.S. 41, on W. 11th St., where residents heard from project sponsors.

Jone Noveck pitched a proposal for tree guards.

“Most of the trees they plant now have a poor likelihood of survival,” the local resident said. “We may replace a tree two or three times. This would save taxpayers money.”

The Seventh Ave. South Alliance is proposing the installation of historic streetlights, which they say would make the street more welcoming for residents and visitors alike.

“A couple of these intersections at one point were gauged among the most dangerous in the city,” said Alliance member Brooke Schooley. “We can provide an aesthetic feature like historic lights that can make it feel like more of a neighborhood and less like a highway.” The Landmarks Preservation Commission has O.K.’d the light poles as appropriate for wide avenues in the Greenwich Village Historic District.

Engaging youth is a goal of the City Council. This year, the “PB” voting age has been lowered from 14 to 11.

“Sometimes students have to go home and might not have computers or Internet connection there,” said Ashley, a High School of Fashion Industries student. “They might have to go to libraries and waste time trying to figure out how to get things done. If it’s at school, it’s easily approachable.”

“We spend most of our time on computers,” said Malachi, a student at Quest to Learn. “Sometimes there are problems with the Wi-Fi, or our project can get deleted. If this is done properly that won’t happen.”

Audrey Henningham, a volunteer in Johnson’s district office, advocated for a project to upgrade technology in libraries. She said the printers in the four local libraries are often out of order and the letters worn off many keyboards.

Among the projects are: $250,000 for real-time rider information at key bus stops district-wide; $250,000 for historic street lighting on Seventh Ave. South between Commerce, Carmine and Clarkson Sts.; $242,000 for 200 tree guards district-wide; $500,000 for a new fitness center for special-needs students at P.S. M721, Manhattan Occupational Training Center, at 250 W. Houston St.; $350,000 for tech upgrades for the district’s public schools; $200,000 for tech upgrades — including new desktop computers, printers and more — at District 3 libraries. Other projects are in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

Village poll sites include the L.G.B.T. Center, at 208 W. 13th St., and Greenwich House, at 27 Barrow St., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sat., April 14, and Sun., April 15. There is also voting at Johnson’s district office, at 224 W. 30th St., Suite 1206, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Mon., April 9 through Fri., April 13.

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