Residents vote on how to use $1M in funds

BY GABE HERMAN | For the sixth year in a row, residents of Council District 3 have weighed in to vote on participatory-budgeting items for the Village, Chelsea and Hells Kitchen.

Council District 3 had 12 projects up for vote, on a wide range of issues, including accessibility, park upgrades and transit improvements. To vote, you had to be a resident of District 3 and at least 11 years old, or in the sixth grade.

People could vote for up to five items on their ballot. The winning projects will receive a portion of $1 million in City Council discretionary funds set aside for the district initiative. The top vote-getters are guaranteed funding until the allotted funds for the district are used up. Each project includes a price tag with its description.

Councilmember Corey Johnson spoke to constituents at a recent expo on participatory-budgeting projects. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

One project on this year’s ballot would add real-time clocks at five bus stops, with priority given to the M11 line. That project would cost $200,000.

Another project would renovate the bathrooms at Hudson Park Library and make them ADA handicap accessible. That would cost $300,000.

There is also a proposal to make two bathrooms accessible at Park West High School, at 525 W. 50th St., for $170,000. And another would make the entrance to P.S. 51, at 525 W. 44th St., more accessible with electric doors and improved lighting, for $250,000.

An expo in Chelsea on March 28 let residents learn more about the projects they could vote for in this year’s process.

Early voting started at the expo, which was held in the evening at Hudson Guild, at 441 W. 26th St. between Ninth and Tenth Aves.

Voting ran from March 30 to April 7. People could vote online at or in person at several different sites. Online voting also concluded on April 7.

Eddie Lauria, who voted at the expo, has lived on 17th St. between Ninth and Tenth Aves. for 54 years.

He said the project most important to him was fixing the pathway along 17 St. in Gertrude Kelly Park, just west of Eighth Ave. He said the path has been uneven and in disrepair for many years, and needs to be flattened out and have new stones installed.

Another important issue for Lauria was adding real-time clocks at bus stops. He said he takes the bus often and sometimes has to wait a long time for buses to arrive.

“You can’t rely on the schedule,” Lauria said. “It’s not accurate.”

Councilmember Corey Johnson, who is the City Council speaker, attended the expo and toured each station, talking with representatives who were advocating for each project.

After reviewing all the projects, Johnson told this paper that the delegates and volunteer working groups who came up with the projects did a great job.

“I am really pleasantly surprised every year at the creativity of what they come up with,” he said.

Johnson said that the two items on this year’s ballot that stood out for him were the accessible bathrooms at Park West High School and the accessible entrance at P.S. 51. He said they jibed with his calls for more accessibility over all in the city.

“These are two projects I think we shouldn’t have to fund: They should be done already,” Johnson said. “But I’m really glad they’re in line with what I’ve been talking about. All the projects here are very exciting.”

This is the sixth year of participatory budgeting in District 3. A Johnson aide said the numbers of voters were up this year. The winners will be presented in May at Johnson’s State of the District address.

3 Responses to Residents vote on how to use $1M in funds

  1. Just another reason why Margaret Chin is the worst council person in NYC. Not sure why the media doesn't take her to task for not doing Participatory Budgeting …other than greed and corruption.

  2. @Kris – My thoughts exactly. These prices are just ridiculous.

  3. 40 years at the same address and yet I have never, ever been notified by my councilperson (in this case, Mr. Johnson) or seen in the newspapers, or gotten a mailer from the local community board about these "elections." I have not be informed of how the process itself works (how do things get nominated to be voted on, where/when does one go to vote on the nominated projects;) or anything else about this part of city governance;

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