Sunset Park residents stepped up to the plate for Councilmember Carlos Menchaca’s second participatory budgeting initiative, as a record number of voters showed up to vote for various projects.
“Tonight is a celebration,” said Menchaca at the announcement ceremony on Thursday, May 7 at P.S. 503, 330 59th Street. “So many of you have been doing so much work this last year.”
This cycle, which corresponds to Fiscal Year 2016, beginning on July 1, 2015, Menchaca allocated $2 million to be used for capital improvements across the district. Project ideas were collected beginning in September, 2014, and have been vetted by community residents and city agencies.
Before announcing the five winners of this year’s projects, Menchaca recapped the progress that has been made since last year, when nearly 3,000 residents voted for five winning projects.
“They’ve only been in the budget for a year. This is part of our learning strategy to understand how long it takes for projects to happen after you’ve already created them,” he said.
Last year’s projects included NYPD security cameras between 42nd and 62nd Streets along Sixth through Eighth Avenue. The contract is still pending registration for the estimated $600,000 project. Another project that remains pending is the expansion of the Sunset Park Brooklyn Public Library branch.
One of the projects that’s been completed is the street improvements along Seventh Avenue in Community Board 7. The estimated $350,000 project that received 1,070 was implemented this spring.
When addressing this year’s voter turnout, Menchaca revealed the number had increased significantly. “This is something we should all be proud of as we received 6,298 votes. That is more than any district this year,” he said. “That is beautiful because it’s not just from people who are registered to vote. Anyone who is a resident has a voice and power to make their communities better.”
This year’s winning projects included outdoor fitness equipment outside the Sunset Recreational Center which received 2,773 votes, bathroom renovations for schools and the expansion of exit doors for P.S. 169.
The number one vote getter in this year’s participatory budgeting is technology for schools such as P.S. 1, 309 47th Street and M.S. 88, 544 Seventh Avenue, which received 3,273 votes and would cost an estimated $965,000.
“This is a huge victory for so many schools that have been asking for the same thing: technology,” said Menchaca. “One of the things that continue to be an important part for our discussion on education for our young people is getting them ready for the next generation of jobs.