By Bill Parry
Neighborhood Assemblies will convene next month to start another round of participatory budgeting to decide how $1 million in capital funding will be invested in Astoria, City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) announced last week.
A record-breaking 3,600 votes were cast in District 22 during last year’s cycle on winning projects that included new tree plantings, bus countdown clocks, upgrades at both public libraries, and upgrades to the STEM Lab at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria.
“Every year, I look forward to hearing from residents about projects in which they would like to invest,” Constantinides said. “Participatory Budgeting is a volunteer-driven program that allows New Yorkers to have a voice, engage hands-on with our city budget cycle, and get to know how our agencies work.”
The first Neighborhood Assembly will be held at the Queensview Community Room #2 Sept. 14 at 6 p.m., where residents can share their ideas and propose suggestions. Volunteers will then break into groups and transform the list of ideas into a ballot of fully-formed project proposals with details and costs. Other assemblies will be held Sept. 18 at the Cretans Association at 7 p.m.; Sept. 20 at the Astoria Houses Community Center at 7 p.m.; and Sept. 27 at Bohemian Hall at 6 p.m.
Voting will be held this spring both online and at sites around the district, which includes Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights.
“The enthusiasm we’ve seen from voters is what has made Participatory Budgeting a success in previous cycles,” Constantinides said. “I am proud to continue to provide the opportunity for civic engagement in our neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) launched his 8th Annual Back to School Supplies Drive last week to benefit students in need of supplies for the start of the school year. Community members in District 26 can donate backpacks, notebooks, pencils, crayons, calculators and rulers at Van Bramer’s office, and at five Queens Library drop off locations, until Sept. 5.
The supplies will be distributed to students in need throughout the district, including Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and part of Astoria, for the start of the school year Sept. 7.
“No child should have to go to school without the supplies they need to do their best,” Van Bramer said. “With the upcoming school year fast approaching, many families in our community struggle with the cost of supplies that are required and have to make tough choices that could leave a child without necessary supplies. Each and every child deserves to walk into school with dignity and confidence that comes from having a full backpack. Your help will make a real difference and give each child in our community the tools to learn, grow and succeed.”
Last year’s drive was very successful, according to Van Bramer’s office, with hundreds of supplies donated to PS 76 with many students who live in the Queensbridge and Ravenswood houses.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr