NY4P Joins Participatory Budgeting Process

Friday, January 13, 2012
Four New York City Council Members are giving New Yorkers more of a say in the City's legislative priorities.
Beginning last fall, Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane Williams signed on to the Participatory Budgeting process, a growing national movement in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Each member allocated $1 million of capital discretionary funds to the project, and oversaw the formation of delegate committees for issues such as housing, education, open space and transportation. The community meetings began last fall.
New Yorkers for Parks serves on the project’s steering committee and recently attended the Parks & Recreation delegate meeting for District 8. The meeting, also attended by Parks Department officials, was reflective of how the Participatory Budgeting process is meant to work—through feedback and collaboration with government officials.
The group identified specific improvements needed in three local parks, and Parks Department representatives offered helpful suggestions for each site. In Poor Richard’s Playground, Parks said it would soon invest $200,000 to fix the worn safety surfacing, so Participatory Budgeting funds were not needed. Because the available funds would only cover a portion of the cost of new play equipment in Blake Hobbes Playground, Parks suggested that the community seek supplemental funds from a local nonprofit to help meet the shortfall. As for the outdated dog run in Thomas Jefferson Park, Parks urged the newly formed Thomas Jefferson Park Dog Association to build a constituency to advocate for Parks Department capital funds for a new dog run.
Similar meetings have taken place over the past several months IN the other three participating districts. When this spring’s budget discussion arrives, New Yorkers will have had a more direct say in how public money is spent than ever before.

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