Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) released his top 10 budget items Tuesday that will appear on the Participatory Budgeting ballot in his district. Residents will be able to choose as many projects as they want up to $1 million. The projects were chosen by a committee of 60 community volunteers serving as budget delegates.
The list includes $223,000 for CCTV upgrades for Queens Library branches in Queens Village and North Hills; a self check-in kiosk for the Queens Village library costing $385,000; fitness equipment that will run $450,000 for Alley Pond Park; a $300,000 rehabilitation for the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway greenway; $105,000 for security cameras at three sites in the council district that will be chosen by the NYPD; a $300,000 gym renovation at Benjamin Cardozo and Martin Van Buren high schools; a new audio and video sound system at PS 33 costing $75,000; smartboards worth $200,000 for four schools in the district and technology upgrades at nine schools including PS 18 in Queens Village, PS 213 in Oakland Gardens and Queens High School of Teaching.
Voting, open to any resident of the 23rd District, will kick off on Sunday, April 12, and will continue through April 19. Any resident of the district who is sixteen years of age or older can vote. The projects that get the most votes will be funded in this year’s City budget.
“Participatory Budgeting is a great way to get the community involved,” said Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association and an active participatory budgeting volunteer. “I commend Councilman Weprin for bringing this program to the residents of Eastern Queens.”
Weprin was one of the first members in Queens to conduct the process, an intiative championed by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan/Bronx). Other Queens Council members conducting participatory budgeting include Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans).
“Participatory budgeting is a unique process that empowers the community by giving residents a real say in how money in the district is spent,” Weprin said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to spread the word about PB so that this year, we have the biggest voter turnout yet.”