New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Our Town UES votes to fund tech, school infrastructure by Michael Garofalo

UES votes to fund tech, school infrastructure

Air conditioning for a public school cafeteria, renovations to a kindergarten bathroom and technology upgrades in a number of local schools and libraries will be coming to the Upper East Side this year after over 1,900 residents cast votes for their preferred capital projects through the City Council’s Participatory Budgeting program. The program, which recently completed its seventh annual voting cycle, lets residents vote on how to allocate $1 million in discretionary funding in their council district.

Four projects will receive funding in Council Member Ben Kallos’s Council district, which includes Roosevelt Island and much of the Upper East Side.

This year’s top vote-winner, with 792 votes, was a $200,000 project to reconstruct a kindergarten bathroom in P.S. 290, the Manhattan New School, on East 83rd Street. The overhauled restroom will include new sinks and stalls configured at heights that are age-appropriate for students.

Residents also voted to fund a $350,000 initiative to purchase new laptops for use in 10 public schools in the district. The second-place project was supported by 736 residents.

Another tech-focused project, the installation of $200,000 worth of new equipment in the district’s public libraries, received the third-most votes. The Webster Library on York Avenue, the East 67th Street Library and the Roosevelt Island Library will receive upgrades including new computers, printers, self-checkout kiosks and high-speed WiFi.

The final winning project, with 666 votes, commits $600,000 to the installation of a new heating and air conditioning system in the cafeteria at P.S. 183, the Robert Louis Stevenson School, on East 66th Street, which is also often used by community organizations as a meeting space.

Though the combined cost of the top four projects exceeds the $1 million allocated to Participatory Budgeting, Kallos’s office will fund the remaining $350,000 with money from the district’s discretionary budget.

“Education and the well-being of our neighborhood children have always been a top priority for me,” Kallos said in a statement. “I am proud and happy that the residents who voted and participated in the process share that feeling and made it known with their vote.”

Voting for Participatory Budgeting took place in April and was open to all district residents age 11 or older. Participants could vote for multiple projects on their ballots, which could be cast online or in person at multiple locations in the district during the weeklong voting period.

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