Sept. 11, 2015 By Christian Murray
Residents of Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City will soon have a direct say on how $1 million in city funds will be spent in the district.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who each year allocates city funds toward local parks, clubs and schools, is about to start the participatory budgeting process for the second year, where a portion of the funds he receives from the City are put in the hands of the community to spend.
On Monday, Van Bramer will be hosting a kick-off event at the Sunnyside Community Service Center to explain to residents how the process works (see poster below).
The participatory budgeting program allows residents to put forward ideas as to how the money should be spent, which will then be put up for a vote in spring.
“It’s a great way for people to become more engaged and active in the community,” Van Bramer said. “When we do that we are a better society.”
Last year, residents put forward 27 ideas with voters selecting items such as a bike pathway in Long Island City and playground upgrades at Queensbridge Houses (see article).
The process involves holding a series of workshops where residents initially put forward their ideas that will later be whittled down to a list that will be put up for a vote.
There will be 10 workshops scattered throughout the district in coming. The first one in Woodside will take place on Sept 17 at Christ Lutheran Church (see below); in Long Island City on Sept. 22 at PS/IS 78; and Sunnyside at the Sunnyside Library on Oct. 6.
Van Bramer said that he aims to grow the level of interest in the process. Last year about 1,500 people cast ballots. This year he is hoping to get well over 2,000.
“This is a progressive way to allocate funding and there are a lot of taxpayer dollars involved,” he said.