Participatory Budgeting Turns Out New Yorkers for Parks

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Last spring, New Yorkers in eight City Council districts made clear through the Participatory Budgeting (PB) process just how important parks are to them and their neighborhoods.

PB is an initiative gaining popularity nationwide, through which community members determine directly how to spend part of the public budget. And last spring, thousands of New Yorkers chose parks.

In 2011, four New York City Council Members – Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane D. Williams – dedicated a portion of their discretionary funding to the process, allowing their constituents to develop proposals and vote on how those funds would be spent.  Last budget cycle, four more Council Members – David Greenfield, Dan Halloran, Stephen Levin and Mark Weprin – joined the PB movement.

In all, more than a million New Yorkers live in PB districts, and the eight Council Members dedicated more than $10 million toward the 46 winning projects in PB's second year.

When the time came to vote on the various proposals last April, park projects emerged as the most popular, with 260 proposed projects out of 1,641 total.

In the end, the PB process yielded 24 park and open space improvement projects across the city.  To name a few: renovated basketball courts in East Harlem’s Thomas Jefferson Park; an enhanced concert stage and picnic area in Fresh Meadows’ Cunningham Park; ADA-compliant access ramps to the beach in the Rockaways; and a revamped dog run for East River State Park in Williamsburg.

The third season of PB is now in full swing, and over the next month you can attend a Neighborhood Assembly to help decide which projects move forward to a vote in the spring.

Click here to find out if your district participates in PB, and to learn how to get involved this fall to help ensure parks remain a top priority in this ambitious program.

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