By Bob Harris
Many City Council members in Queens have asked their constituents to take part in Participatory Budgeting. This means that people in the district can vote on how to spend the $1 million in member’s money these lawmakers are allocated to spend in their districts. For the past four months volunteers in certain districts have been meeting to decide on wants. The wants have been broken down into categories representing a couple of hundred thousand dollars each.
In Councilman Mark Weprin’s District 23 in eastern Queens, ten categories were created by the volunteers which range from libraries, parks, transportation and public safety to four different school projects. This is my district and I have been involved in the selections when it wasn’t snowing. My choices in District 23 are school projects designated 9 and 10 because they are partly funding projects in PS 26 and P4 in PS 179, which are my neighborhood schools. My grandson attends P4.
In District 22, in western Queens, City Councilman Costa Constantinides’ volunteers developed 18 projects. Other Queens districts where residents can vote for projects are those of Eric Ulrich (32) in south Queens, Donovan Richards (31) in southeast Queens and I. Daneek Miller (27) in southeast Queens, Jimmy Van Bramer (26) in western Queens, and Julissa Ferreras (21) Karen Koslowitz (29) in central Queens and Paul Vallone (19) in northeast Queens. Watch your local newspapers and for mailings.
Any person 16 and older can vote in most districts. In the case of Donovan’s district, the age is 14. You don’t have to be a registered voter. Voting will be taking place from April 13 through April 19 in some schools, Y’s, libraries, Council members’’ district offices and certain apartment buildings. I know that Weprin will send a mailing to all constituents and I assume the other Council members will do so also. The mailing should have all the information you will need to vote.
RESIDENTS OBJECT TO EXPRESS BUS LANE GOING DOWN MAIN STREET
The city wants to create a Bus Rapid Transit or express bus lane from Flushing to Jamaica, Queens. Officials want to designate one lane exclusively for this project on Main Street. They claim travel time can be cut by 15 to 25 percent, but opposition is strong in Kew Gardens Hills where Main Street runs through a busy commercial strip.
The residents and shopkeepers fear that if one lane is designated only for buses on Main Street, they will lose parking along the curb. They fear this will affect business in local stores. There is also fear that with the loss of a lane, regular traffic will become so crowded that people will crowd the side streets.
There is also concern as to how a dedicated bus lane will be enforced. One should ask how and where can cars cross such a lane. When a similar type of idea was suggested to Community Board 8 for Union Turnpike or the service road of the Long Island Expressway a couple of years ago, these complaints were brought up and the proposal was turned down and dropped.
The Queens Civic Congress members talked about this proposal and members asked how a dedicated bus lane could be placed on the bridge over the Grand Central Parkway. This bridge is narrow and becomes congested now. How could this work on a narrow bridge?
GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Our Free Enterprise System stimulates people to work hard and accomplish things to make money. This is what creates new inventions and can make our life better. However, the system can go overboard and create bad reactions. It seems that Fiat will pay its CEO $72 million and Disney will pay its CEO $46.5 million. How can a society stay in harmony with such excesses? It just seems so unconscionable with all the poverty and inequality in society.