NYPress.com Citizen-backed Projects Get City Council Funds by Daniel Fitzsimmons
UPPER EAST SIDE The results of Councilman Ben Kallos’ $1 million participatory budgeting program were recently announced by his office, with money going toward upgrading senior centers, bus stops and schools on the Upper East Side.
This is Kallos’ first foray into participatory budgeting, where constituents vote on how to spend a certain amount of money in the district. Under normal circumstances, constituents get seven months to hear and vote on proposals from the community. Because Kallos took office in January, however, the process was expedited, and only projects that received prior approval from the city were considered.
Kallos’ office received 14 proposals from the parks, environmental protection, transportation, education, consumer affairs and health departments, as well as the city’s School Construction Authority, the New York Public Library and the New York City Housing Authority. District 5 residents were given five votes to use on different proposals. Winning projects were the ones which received the most votes until the $1 million was exhausted.
Senior centers on the Upper East Side were awarded $250,000, with Kallos tacking on another $750,000 in discretionary funds for a total of almost $1 million. The money will be used for a new security system and door at Robbins Plaza, and a large grant to Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center.
Crosstown bus stops heading to the west side received $300,000. Fifteen electronic signs will be installed along the M96, M86, M79 and M66 crosstown routes to tell riders when the next bus will arrive in real-time.
Nine public schools on the Upper East Side received funds ranging from $40,000 to $225,000 for items such as laptops and the enrichment of science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculums. Funds totaling $1,075,000 were allocated to the schools, with $250,000 coming by way of the participatory budgeting program and the remainder coming from Kallos.
Kallos’ office said they’ll be participating in another, full round of participatory budgeting next cycle, with proposals that come directly from the community. For more information, visit www.benkallos.com. Proposals this cycle that were on the table but did not receive enough votes are being considered for funding by Kallos’ office.