Except perhaps for being a somewhat significant plot point on HBO's Girls (shout-out to Ray, who has been the most neighborhood-y New Yorker among all the show's characters), there's nothing all that sexy about community boards. But getting involved—we give you six reasons why—with your local board is actually one of the best ways you can influence what happens in your own back yard, especially during participatory budgeting week, which, as it happens, takes place right now.
But first, what's participatory budgeting? Per its tongue-tying name, it's when residents can actually have a say on which projects will be funded in their neighborhoods. City Council members who have opted to join in the process listen year-round to suggestions from constituents on how to allocate at least $1 million of the city's budget, and then put the final decision to a vote.
In District 6, which covers much of the Upper West Side, for instance, residents can help decide whether they'd rather spend money on, among many initiatives, upgrades to a dog run on 72nd Street (to the tune of $150,000); buying and installing a new digital projection system at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts near Lincoln Center ($250,000); or beautifying three islands in the middle of Broadway with plantings and other upgrades ($350,000).
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District 34, which stretches from Williamsburg to Bushwick and Ridgewood, on the other hand, has 11 projects up for voting, including laptops and a STEM cart for Public School 239 (which talies up to $157,000); the construction of a multimedia center at Public School 250; or a renovation of the Hope Gardens Community Center gym ($500,000).
This year, the sixth in a row that participatory budgeting has been in place in NYC, voting began this past Saturday, March 25, and continues until Sunday, April 2nd. Even better, you can now vote online or via text.
To learn more about how the process works, visit the New York City Council website or watch the video below:
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