Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get Ready To Vote: Councilmember Lander and Residents Unveil Participatory Budgeting Ballot


Councilman Brad Lander of the 39th Council District
What to do with a $1 million dollars? That was the question Councilman Brad Lander of the 39th District Council posed his constituents at several assemblies back in October 2011. The purpose was to identify neighborhood needs in his district, which includes Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, the Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Borough Park.
It was part of a new initiative called participatory budgeting, a process by which members of the community directly decide how to spend part of the public budget. The idea was first developed in Brazil in 1989 and is now used in many municipalities around the world.
Here in the United States, only the 49th Ward in Chicago has implemented the idea. In 2012, four New York City Council districts are taking part in a pilot initiative, each setting aside at least $1million dollars of their discretionary funds.
Over several sessions, community members came up with a list of projects, which will be unveiled on March 15th.  In two weeks, voting will begin. (For voting locations, click here)
Here is more from Councilman Brad Lander's office.

Councilmember Lander and Residents Unveil Participatory Budgeting Ballot
At Participatory Budgeting Expo, volunteers from Lander’s district will present their proposals for projects to improve the community – in two weeks, district residents will vote
Location: Park Slope Armory YMCA, 361 15th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue, Brooklyn

At Wednesday night’s Participatory Budgeting Expo, volunteers in Councilmember Brad Lander’s participatory budgeting initiative will unveil twenty projects they have developed to build in their neighborhoods. The Expo, which combines elements of a high school science fair and campaign event, will feature volunteers pitching their proposals to other district residents before voting begins in two weeks.
The projects range from new equipment for schools and upgrades to local parks to green infrastructure and public art. A full list is below.
Participatory budgeting puts decision making power in the hands of ordinary New Yorkers. Four City Councilmembers, including Councilmember Brad Lander of the 39th District in Brooklyn, are bringing participatory budgeting to New York for the first time this year. The process began last fall with neighborhood meetings that solicited nearly 1,000 ideas from community members in Councilmember Lander’s district. Over the winter, 100 district residents formed committees, charged with evaluating those ideas and deciding which to put on the ballot.
Residents of the district will be able to vote for their favorite projects between March 27th and April 1st.
For more information, visit BradLander.com/PB.
 Projects on Councilmember Lander’s participatory budgeting ballot
For details about these projects, visit BradLander.com/PBballot, or contact Alex Moore at 718-499-1090.

Culture and Community Facilities
*A. Carroll Gardens Library Community Space
Community meeting room renovation with upgraded acoustics, energy efficient lighting, new PA system, and stage.
*B. International Mother Language Monument
Celebrating local cultural diversity, International Mother Language Day, and Bengali language movement. At Dome Playground.

*C. Kensington Library Resources and Community Space
New books/DVDs & equipment for small room for meetings, storytelling, rehearsals, and performances promoting Kensington's cultural diversity.
*D. Projector for Celebrate Brooklyn & BRIC Art Center
High powered projector for large scale, free public performances at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park and at the new BRIC Media House.
*E. Bathroom Renovation for the Children of PS 124
Renovate two dysfunctional bathrooms that serve over 136 of the youngest students daily in a high-needs elementary school.
*F. JHS 62 media center upgrade for journalism program
Electrical upgrade of multimedia room and purchase of new equipment to support school's news and journalism program.
*G. PS 131 Auditorium Project
This high needs school is also a Performing Arts Magnet. The auditorium needs improvement beginning with the seats.
*H. PS 39 Cafeteria Soundproofing Project
Wall/ceiling mounted sound panels on low roofs & cement walls to lessen extraneous noise in tiny cave-like cafeteria.
*I. Technology: A Better Future for PS 154 / PS 130 Students
Installation of 15 Smartboards (PS 130), 45 13" Macbook computers with 2 carts and 2 wireless printers (PS 154 grades 1, 3, & 4).

*J. Brooklyn Neighbors Composting
Pest-free, smell-free compost system near Gowanus Canal uses 1 ton/day of our food scraps collected at local greenmarkets and schools to create rich soil for our gardens, parks, and trees.

Parks and Recreation
*K. Body Weight Fitness Equipment Area
Install new body weight fitness equipment in Prospect Park.
*L. District 39 Tree Planting
Plant 170 new trees and install tree guards on blocks with few or no trees (Parks Department will contribute an additional $85,000 to this effort for tree planting if funded).
*M. Pigeon Plaza Greenstreet Rehabilitation
Refurbish Pigeon Plaza (New Utrecht Ave, 45th St, Fort Hamilton Pkwy) with new landscaping, seating, fencing, and trash can.
*N. Prospect Park Pedestrian Pathway Rehabilitation
Repair Prospect Park pedestrian paths near Park Circle and Long Meadow to prevent flooding, add 10 trash cans in park.

Streets and Sidewalks
*O. 50th Street Repaving Project
Repaving 50th St from Fort Hamilton Pkwy – 13th Ave. Making it a safer, smoother street.
*P. Intersection Safety Improvements
Build sidewalk ‘bulbs’ at Carroll St & Third Ave to minimize pedestrian crossing distances.
*Q. Pedestrian Hazards at the Prospect Expressway
Repairs & additions to badly damaged and dangerous 9 lane Prospect Expressway pedestrian crossing, area and landscape.

*R. BusTime "count-down" clocks
Install digital signs on bus shelters in the district to inform riders when the next bus will arrive. (MTA must adopt a bus clock system for this project to move forward).
*S. Help Points at F/G Subway Stations
Installing Help Points at 4th Ave and Carroll St. F/G stations, which riders can use to request assistance or make an emergency call.
*T. Flowers: First Fix For Flooding at Ft Hamilton F/G
Improve south end of Ft. Hamilton subway exit by replanting green areas to control erosion & prevent flooding (if funded, an additional $325,000 will be be applied to the project by another agency).

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Bette said...

ripostra eisonEvery time I see Brad Lander's name, I just wince. I can't read about anything he's involved with without suspicion. Sorry.

Sean said...

I agree with you, Bette. Lander, or "Blander", as he is not-so-affectionately known, seems to have an all-too-confident air of someone who seems to have too many "connections" that have got him where he is.

He may speak well, but that just makes him all the more cagey and he seems to talk his way around real answers, like most politicians.

I think the participatory budgeting thing is a good concept, but it might just be a bone thrown to citizens to make them think they're more involved in the budget process, especially in this age where so many don't trust where our money goes with politicians being beholden to corporate sponsorship and that sort of corruption.

Also, at the meeting in October, Blander involved John Heyer quite heavily in the presentation - Heyer can neither speak nor spell publicly. Sort of an embarrassment. But, then again, Blander and Heyer are both pretty tight with Buddy Scotto - so that can't be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head, Sean, about Lander, and the bone that this participatory budgeting is. A drop in the bucket while the politicians and those who receive their favors do what they want - never mind the community. Very clever. Lander stands for everything in a politician I have come to despise - again nail on the head about his confident air of someone very "connected."

Anonymous said...

Landers Budgeting ballot ! Composting near the Gowanes Canal?We want to clean the whole area composting brings RATS!!! How about Crime ? or doesn't anyone care. Please people "wake up".