March 31, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
Western Queens residents have just a few days left to have their say on which capital projects in their district should be funded via a process known as participatory budgeting.
Participatory budgeting is a process in which area residents can pitch ideas and vote on how to spend $1 million of city funds on capital projects in their respective districts. The process aims to engage residents in the civic process by enabling them to make decisions in developing proposals and voting on community projects.
Residents can vote either online or at various voting sites set up by their respective Council members with Sunday being the final day of voting. Residents ages 11 years and older can vote as long as they live, work or go to school in the district.
This year, 29 City Council members are taking part in the participatory budgeting, including Councilwoman Julie Won — whose District 26 seat covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City — and Councilwoman Tiffany Caban, whose District 22 seat covers Astoria as well as sections of East Elmhurst, Woodside and Jackson Heights.
The projects must be “capital projects” that benefit the public and cost at least $50,000, with a life span of at least five years. Improvements to schools, parks, libraries, public housing and public space are often funded through the process. The projects must also be located within the confines of the 26th Council District.
Participating council members have already held meetings over the last few months where residents learned about the participatory budgeting process and got the opportunity to propose capital projects that they would like to see funded.
Volunteer delegates have combed through the ideas and put together a list of projects that are being voted on this week. The most popular projects will be funded up until the $1 million budget has been exhausted.
We continued Participatory Budgeting outreach at @Ps166Q and local small businesses on 34th Street in Astoria. Loved seeing how excited our neighbors were to vote for projects to improve our local schools. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/Md6jqPo01O
— Council Member Julie Won (@CMJulieWon) March 28, 2023
Won’s entire $1 million budget will go toward funding capital projects in district schools. The projects being voted on include technology upgrades, lighting and energy efficiency upgrades, bathroom renovations and accessibility ramps
“Our children deserve to learn in environments that are updated, safe, and clean,” Won said. “As a mother and product of New York public schools, funding District 26 schools will continue to be a top priority. Through Participatory Budgeting, our neighbors can have a say in how we spend $1 million of our public dollars to bring even more improvements to our schools.”
Meanwhile, the majority of the proposals on the ballot for District 22 are also related to district schools. Residents can also vote for street tree planting throughout the district.
To vote online, click here.
Projects on Council District 26 Participatory Budget:
Technology upgrades: $75,000 each; PS 112, PS 166, PS 199, PS 29, PS/IS 78, PS 343, PS 361
Lighting and energy efficiency upgrades: $250,000; PS 166
Bathroom renovation: $150,000; PS 112
Accessibility ramps: $700,000; District 26 schools.
Remaining District 26 Voting sites:
March 31: PS 112 Dutch Kills, located at 25-05 37th Ave., between 2 and 6 p.m.
April 1: Doughboy Park, located at 56th Street and Woodside Avenue, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (While Woodside on the Move’s (WOTM) Easter Egg Hunt takes place)
April 2: Culture Lab LIC, located at 5-25 46th Ave., between 2 and 4 p.m.
Projects on Council District 22 Participatory Budget:
PS 17 Library upgrade: $1 million; library also used by students at Q300
PS 234 auditorium upgrades: $750,000 to upgrade seating and floor inside auditorium
PS 151 dance studio: $750,000 to construct dance studio with mirrors and barres
LIC High School electrical upgrades: $750,000 to upgrade electrical panels throughout school to ensure air conditioning units work properly.
PS 70 bathroom upgrades: $300,000 to upgrade two bathrooms in cafeteria including replacement of fixtures, stalls, floor/wall tiling, ADA accessibility
IS 235 technology upgrades: $200,000 to provide 120 laptops and one mobile smart board
The school is for immigrant students who arrived in the US within the last year
IS 141 Water fountain upgrades – $72,000 to upgrade nine water fountains throughout IS 141
Street Tree Planting: $150,000; districtwide locations to be determined
Remaining District 22 Voting sites:
April 2: The corner of 31st Avenue and 34th Street, between 1 and 4 p.m.