By Mark Hallum
It is another year of participatory budget voting success in the district of Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) with over 8,000 votes cast to fund school, law enforcement and community projects.
Vallone’s district leads the city and Queens in voter turnout for participatory budgeting, which the city introduced four years ago to give communities a direct say in where $1 million is spent.
“These results once again clearly show that our district has overwhelmingly embraced the success of the participatory budgeting process. At a time when voter turnout is at a record low, we have created a way to engage our youth and the youngest voters as to the power and importance of voting,” Vallone said. “The first place finish for NYPD Security Cameras is a clear sign that public safety is a top priority for our neighborhoods. This monumental, eight-month task could not have been possible without the continuous dedication of our delegates, community liaisons, volunteers, staff and especially Vito Tautonico, our director of Constituent Services, who spearheaded the process.”
The 8,000 votes cast this year eclipsed last year’s turnout, which saw about 6,000 and 4,500 in 2016. Participatory voting also engages the youth with a minimum age of 16 to vote for projects.
This year the 111th and 109th precincts received $141,000 for security cameras to be placed at key locations within the two commands as a means of crime prevention.
This year’s recipients thanked Vallone for selecting their projects.
“It is with great police work and crime prevention tools like the NYPD Security Cameras that help the NYPD continue to lower crime rates and keep our city safe,” said Jerry Filippidis, president of the 109th Precinct Community Council.
Bayside High School received $600,000 for music rehearsal resources to convert unused spaces on school grounds into sound-proofed performance rooms and to include storage for musical instruments
“The Bayside High School community is delighted to have our music project selected as a result of the Participatory Budgeting process” said Jonathan Hirata, assistant principal of Bayside High School, who thanked the councilman for giving the students a voice in their community. “This contribution to the school will serve our students for many years to come.”
JHS 194 at 154-60 17 Ave. in Whitestone will get $300,000 to renovate the walls, floors and the safety padding of its gymnasium as well as to replace basketball hoops.
“The gymnasium renovation will be greatly appreciated by all the students and community-based organizations that share our space,” said Ann Lippert, parent coordinator for JHS 194. “We are so grateful to the JHS 194 community, the PTA, our current and former students, their parents, and everyone who participated for their support of this project.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall