BY JOE MARVILLI
The Participatory Budgeting votes have all been counted for City Council Districts 19 and 23, with the Poppenhusen Institute and the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps topping the list of projects to support.
More than one thousand residents in each district came out to vote for various projects that participatory budgeting may fund. The process allows citizens to have an input into what they would like to see be repaired, renovated, added or created in their home neighborhoods.
Garnering a majority of the vote with 52.48 percent of the 1,170 ballots cast in District 19, the structural restoration of the Poppenhusen Institute was the top pick. The project hopes to dedicate $250,000 to upgrading the deteriorating conditions at the landmarked institute. Seven out of the district’s 18 projects received approval from the community.
Over in District 23, six projects made the cut out of the 13 on the ballot. Coming in first with 53.2 percent of the 1,116 votes cast is the emergency equipment for the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The $40,000 would install emergency power generators at the corps headquarters to sustain their operations and services during power failures or disruptions.
Coming in second in District 19 with 383 votes, a percentage of 32.74, is the MacNeil Park Rehabilitation. The upgrades, which include installing and replacing benches in the College Point park, would cost $100,000 in funds. Police cameras in high crime areas of the 109th and 111th precincts got 30.77 percent of the vote. They would cost $35,000. Coming right behind the cameras with 30.26 percent of the vote is the rehabilitation of kayak and canoe launch sites and Little Bay and MacNeil Parks. This project would use $150,000 of the available funds.
The next three entries that made it are dedicated to helping out the children of the community. Winning 29.66 percent of the vote is four to six SMART boards or tables to be installed at PS 32, PS 129, PS 130, PS 159, PS 184, PS 193 and the Bell Academy, which would cost $245,000. With 26.75 percent of the vote and $150,000, the other children’s project will be the installation of accessible playground equipment and safety surfacing for special needs children at Fort Totten and Crocheron Playgrounds. The final victorious project will be the renovation of PS 98’s art room for $65,000. The project would remove dangerous millwork and large equipment from the room and will install new furniture, a sink, a drying rack and art storage.
The Queens Country Farm Museum was ranked second in District 23, with 47.9 percent of the vote. The $35,000 would be used to complete the exterior roof and shingle replacement of the Brooder House, one of the farm’s historic buildings.
Getting 39.9 percent of the vote is Martin Van Buren High School for a technology upgrade that would install 20 871N SMART boards to their classrooms for the cost of $129,000. The safety cameras project, which would cost $100,000, received 39.5 percent of the vote. While the cameras would be used from crime prevention, the NYPD would determine the locations in the district.
Two options for Cunningham Park were chosen by the community as well. The picnic area received 38 percent of the vote. Costing $375,000, the project would prevent the erosion of the slope of the pathway that is being refurbished, since debris can collect in the path and further damage it. The final approved project, for $300,000, is a music stage in the park. Receiving 37.8 percent of the vote, it would create an accessible performance stage for both art and music events.
District 23 Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) praised the process after the all the votes were tallied.
“I was delighted with how the process went. We have so many people praising the system and the ability to be actively involved their tax dollars are spent,” he said. “We’re definitely going to do it again next year.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) will also hold a Participatory Budget Vote for his district, but plans to set aside his $1 million for participatory budgeting on Broad Channel and the Rockaways. A final ballot and vote has not yet come together as they are waiting for the City to develop its master plan for the storm-ravaged neighborhood first.
While the choices are taken under heavy advisement, none of them are binding. Rather, they will be taken into consideration by Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s (D-Manhattan) office and the Queens Delegation.
The situation this year is particularly noteworthy due to the fact that District 19’s councilman, Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), was arrested last week and is currently facing federal charges. Despite the allegations, Halloran sent out a statement about the PBs.
“I thank my hard-working staff and all the constituents who put so much time and effort into this process over the past several months,” he said. “I especially congratulate the winners and encourage even more participation next year, in every district.”
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.