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Vote for the projects you believe need funding, cast your ballot online

Residents voting last year, photo via Twitter

March 16, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

Participatory budgeting voters in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City will be able to vote online for the first time ever this year.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will kick off his third annual participatory budgeting vote on March 25, allowing residents in the 26th Council district to decide what projects they would like to see funded with about $1 million of his discretionary capital budget.

For the first time this year, participants will be able to cast their votes from the comfort of their own home, though there will still be 10 locations throughout the district where people can cast their vote in person as well.

“The best thing about the participatory budgeting process is that it’s driven by the people in the neighborhood and it is really a grassroots process,” Van Bramer said.

Following a successful pilot program in several New York City council districts last year, residents of the 31 council districts where participatory budgeting is scheduled to take place will now be able to vote online.

Beginning at midnight on March 25 and running through April 2, constituents will be able to log on to vote through Van Bramer’s website and vote for up to five projects that they would like to see funded.

The voting system requires each voter to sign an affidavit and enter their name and birth date to verify that they reside in the district and only vote once, and the Participatory Budgeting program will keep a list of all voters to ensure there is no fraud.

This is the first year that online voting has been widely available in New York, though several other cities throughout the country including San Francisco and San Jose in California have done it in the past few years.

The participatory budgeting process began in the fall, when community members came together and suggested projects that they would like to be funded. After they compiled the list, Van Bramer’s office spoke with city agencies, estimating feasibility and cost, and pared it down to a final 18 projects that constituents could vote on.

The projects on the ballot this year include expanding the teen space and upgrading technology at the Woodside library; revamping and repairing playgrounds and facilities at schools throughout the district; and upgrading various aspects of the Queensbridge and Ravenswood and Woodside NYCHA campuses.

The list also includes updates to various parks throughout the district, pedestrian safety improvements in LIC, and bus countdown clocks at bus stops.

The price tags on the projects range from $80,000 to add water fountains at PS 112 to $1 million for renovating Sixteen Oaks Grove Park, which is located on 37th Avenue between 14th and 21st Streets.

Last year, Van Bramer said about 3,500 people voted, but he hopes to see that number greatly increase now that people will be able to vote online.

The number of projects funded through the process will depend on how expensive the winners are, Van Bramer said. Though he technically allocates $1 million total to the budgeting process, he has gone over that threshold each year since he introduced Participatory Budgeting to the district in 2015.

In the first year, Van Bramer ended up allocating about $1.4 million and last year he allocated over $2 million on PB projects.

Van Bramer said that he tries to keep his preferences for projects under wraps. “I have a vote and I do vote, but that’s one vote, and then we will let the district decide, that’s the power of participatory budgeting,” he said. “They are all good projects, they are all worthy of funding and may the best project win.”

Though not all the projects can be funded, Van Bramer said that he believed they were all worthy options. “I don’t think that I have ever seen a project that wound up on final list that didn’t merit funding,” he said.

He added that he views the final ballot as a way to understand the priorities of the community, and that he will sometimes fund a few of the projects outside of participatory budgeting if they seem popular and necessary to the community but do not win.

For a full list of voting times and locations and a list of projects on the ballot see the fliers below.

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11 Comments

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HB

These are pretty subpar options. I’ll probably vote for bus countdown clocks, 8 water fountains. The most rundown walkways in LIC surround the Court Square courthouse. Huge cracks, wobbly or missing tiles, it’s a real hazard. How about painting the bridges to Queensboro plaza?

Reply
civics 101

Stop complaining on this site and propose it for the ballot. Get enough people to agree with you on your proposal and you WILL get that money. Maintenance costs money, just agree to pay more taxes and they will allocate more money to the parks dept.

Reply
Max

^^^this. Where was everyone in October when Van Bramer’s office was soliciting capital project ideas? If you’re so fired up, volunteer to help at a polling site when it’s time to vote. Come to the meetings next year. Show up because, believe me, the people who have children who go to a school with no functioning water fountain will be there at the polls and getting their friends and neighbors to vote. Get some perspective. Jesus.

Reply
MRLIC

FIX the Queensbridge Park Bathrooms and Softball Fields, Maintain he fields also as they only mow them twice a year. The balls hit on the ground don’t even get to the outfield the grass gets so high by mid season of the softball league. Many people ride bikes, jog, have barbecues or just sit in the park. The mens bathroom I can attest is a mess. The womens bathroom must be the same.

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MRLIC

Fix the Queensbridge park bathrooms and softball fields. The fields get mowed in April and September. If you play there as I do,the grass will slow a ball down before it gets to the outfield it gets so high. The mens bathroom is horrible. I can only imagine the Ladies bathroom. Many people use this park, FIX the damn park already Jimmy Van Bramer.

Reply
T.K.

Everyone – please get online and vote for item number 15: Shade Canopy for Hunters Point South Park Playground. This is badly needed for kids and everyone else in our community. We did not get it last year. Lets make it happen this year!

Reply
Anonymous

There already is a canopy over the playground. It’s not a lot of shade but it’s something. The park itself is new and in good condition with plenty of amenities. I say put the money elsewhere, there are plenty of old parks in dire need of routine repairs.

Reply
HB

Last year it was 500,000 and didn’t pass. Now it’s 800,000. When I was a kid we wore sunscreen or hats.

Reply
Priorities

There are literally 15 more important/worthy items on that list than getting your ass a bit of shade to sit in while your kids romp around a virtually brand new playground that the City failed to put a canopy on when it built it in the first place. Have you ever even set foot in the park by the Queensbridge Houses? And you want a shade canopy in Hunters Point South Park? How about give the kids at PS 112 some damn water fountains first and bring a clipboard to HPS Park to get the people who use that area on board with contributing towards a canopy if they want it.

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