By Sadef Ali Kully
High-technology projects were the winners in the participatory budget bids for southeast Queens’ District 31 represented by Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton).
The district encompasses neighborhoods in Laurelton, Rosedale, parts of Springfield Gardens, Bayswater, Hammels, Arverne, Edgemere and Far Rockaway.
The 2015 winners are $525,000 for a sound-and-projection system in the Springfield Gardens Education Complex auditorium, $300,000 for a new music studio in IS 231 Mangetech 2000 and $400,000 for the installation of reading and chess areas in Brookville Park and Springfield Park.
The participatory budgeting process, an estimated $25 million citywide this year, allows selected district residents to decide which projects’ tax dollars will fund. Over 2,000 Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens residents took part in the vote on how to spend about $1 million in the district.
“It is crucial we engage our youth in the political process and prepare them to be the future leaders our city needs and deserves. Together, we expanded and improved upon the participatory budgeting process,” Richards said. “As exciting as our announcement was, I am even more excited for the day we come together to celebrate the completion of these real, tangible results we brought home as a community.”
Proposals covered a wide range of community projects, from science lab upgrades to installation of greenway medians. City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and Richards were able to further improve the process this year by launching early voting, a lowered voting age of 14, and introducing the first electronic ballots in the history of the participatory budget process.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull