Park Slope Residents to Decide How to Spend $1M in Taxpayer Dollars

By Leslie Albrecht on October 3, 2012 8:30am 

 A bathroom renovation at P.S. 124 was one of several neighborhood improvements selected for funding during participatory budgeting last year.
A bathroom renovation at P.S. 124 was one of several neighborhood improvements selected for funding during participatory budgeting last year.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

PARK SLOPE — Park Slope residents get to daydream Wednesday night about how they would spend $1 million — with a civic twist.

Local residents will tell City Councilman Brad Lander how they want $1 million in taxpayer dollars spent in their neighborhood at a 6:30 p.m. meeting at Greenwood Baptist Church on Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue.

The brainstorming session is part of a process called participatory budgeting, where citizens get to pick neighborhood improvement projects for government funding.

Lander led the first round of participatory budgeting in his council district last year. After months of meetings where locals suggested dozens of projects, including a gondola on the Gowanus Canal, residents voted on which ones should receive funding.

The top seven vote-getters were funded. The winning projects included renovating the bathrooms at P.S. 124, planting 100 new trees throughout the district, repairing paths and adding more trash cans to Prospect Park, and creating a new community composting system near the Gowanus Canal.

This year Lander is making an effort to include young people in picking projects for funding. Teens as young as 16 will be allowed to vote on the final projects list and Wednesday night's meeting will include a special session for 12 to 18-year-olds.

This year's round of participatory budgeting started with a meeting at the Carroll Gardens public library and will wrap up on Oct. 15 with a session in Borough Park. People who can't make it to one of the five public meetings Lander is holding can submit their project ideas online.

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