By Sadef Ali Kully
The city’s participatory budget voting ended this week. On Wednesday, from in front of his office in St. Albans, Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St.Albans) announced the five project winners for funding from that voting in his district.
The winners were: Roy Wilkins Park, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, road resurfacing, IS 59 and York Early College Academy.
“We were successful because we came together and organized a community,” Miller said. He also mentioned that there were 80 volunteers who made the budget voting happen across his district, which covers St. Albans, some parts of Jamaica and Hollis, Cambria Heights and Springfield Gardens.
“Whether you were a registered voter or not, people still had a voice for your community,” said Miller.
Council District 27 community members age 14 and above were allowed to vote on 23 projects that included park repairs, technological upgrades in the schools and road repairs.
Roy Wilkins Park, with 1,029 votes, will receive $450,000 to enhance its existing outdoor performing space; Jamaica Performing Arts Center, with 942 votes, will get $120,000 to upgrade the sound and lighting system in their theater; road resurfacing projects across the district got 751 votes and will receive $400,000; Intermediate School 59 in Springfield Gardens, with 607 votes, is getting $60,000 to fund the purchase of 10 Smart boards and an overhead projector; and York Early College Academy, with 555 votes, will receive $94,000 to fund the purchase of 13 Smart boards, an overhead projector and one laptop cart.
“This has been a tool to engage, empower and organize our residents,” said Miller. “We’ve seen people come together—youths and seniors and people from all different walks of life—to improve our neighborhoods and collaborate on meaningful projects. These relationships will ultimately be of the greatest value to the district, even more so than any one project.”
Nearly 2,000 ballots were cast in Council District 27, with every ballot allowing up to five votes to be placed. The district placed in the top half of citywide voting among the 24 participating districts.
Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget by voting on different community projects. This year $25 million of taxpayer money from the capital discretionary fund was allocated to 24 City Council members to give their constituents a chance to have real decision-making power over how they want their money to be distributed in their communities.