Photos courtesy of Councilman Paul Vallone's office
Councilman Paul Vallone at last year's participatory budgeting cycle

The fifth year of participatory budgeting is over and the people of northeast Queens have spoken once again for school and security projects.

Councilman Paul Vallone announced on April 22 the results of the 2019 round of participatory budgeting, which garnered just over 8,500 votes in District 19. According to Vallone’s office, this year’s showing beat northeast Queens’ previous record of over 5,000 votes and was the best in New  York City.

From March 30 to April 7, residents in Council District 19 had the opportunity to vote on 20 projects that could potentially receive funding from Vallone. Each resident voted for up to five projects and the top three projects at the end of the voting period would receive funding.

This year the three winning projects were the P.S. 129 gymnasium renovation, a green biome at Bayside High School and NYPD security cameras.

“The results once again clearly show that northeast Queens has overwhelmingly embraced the success of the participatory budgeting process,” said Vallone. “This grassroots process encourages voter participation at a time when voter turnout is at a record low and is a great way to teach our youth the power and importance of voting. This tremendous effort could not have been possible without the continuous dedication of our delegates, community liaisons, volunteers, staff and Vito Tautonico, our director of constituent services, who spearheaded the process. I look forward to continuing to grow the process next year!”

Last year, Vallone allocated nearly $1.8 million in funding for Bayside High School’s new music rehearsal rooms, J.H.S. 194 gymnasium renovations and new NYPD security cameras.

This year, P.S. 129 Patricia Larkin in College Point came in first place with 2,009 votes. Funding will go toward a full renovation of the school’s existing gym space in order to enhance educational opportunities for the school community.

“The P.S. 129 school community would like to thank Councilman Vallone’s office for the opportunity to improve our school building and to participate in the District 19 City Council Participatory Budget Vote,” said Principal Marilyn Alesi. “The gymnasium renovation will be greatly appreciated by all the students. We are so grateful to the P.S 129 community, students, parents, community members, teachers, paraprofessionals and everyone who participated in support of this project.”

1,807 residents voted for Bayside High School’s green biome, which will allow hands-on learning about hydroponics, solar energy, recycling and urban gardening.

“The students, parents and staff of Bayside High School are thrilled to have learned that their dream of a Green Biome/Environmental Science and Sustainability Center will be fulfilled,” said the school’s Assistant Principal Jonathan Hirata. “Council Member Vallone’s Participatory Budgeting initiative introduced Bayside High School students to the political process and allowed them to express their voices through civic participation. The Green Biome will be a cutting-edge learning facility for our students as well as a community center. It will continue to raise awareness about the importance of environmental sustainability in the community.”

NYPD security camera funding came in third place with 1,574 votes. Vallone’s allocation will go toward the funding and installation of four NYPD security cameras, which are meant to enhance crime prevention in District 19.

“The 109th Precinct Community Council would like to thank Councilman Paul Vallone and the community for selecting the NYPD Security Cameras in the participatory budget vote,” Jerry Filippidis, President of the 109th Precinct Community Council. “One of the main concerns of our community is safety and it is great to see that the community voted for the NYPD Security Cameras. The NYPD Security Cameras are a proven effective tool that helps deter crime and help the NYPD keep our city safe.”

“Security cameras are a deterrent to crime,” added Jack Fried, President of 111th Precinct Community Council. “Our community is grateful to Councilman Vallone for recognizing the need and for helping us to keep the 111th community safe.”

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