UPPER EAST SIDE — Electronic bus timers, new technology for schools and funding for senior centers were the big winners in this year’s participatory budget vote for District 5.
More than $2 million in discretionary funds have been set aside for community projects, $1 million of which was divvied up through participatory budgeting, to boost senior centers, electronic bus timer signs for the M66, M79, M86 and M96 and M31 bus routes; and funds to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programming in public schools.
Nine schools are also slated to receive technology upgrades, including laptops, iPads and Smart Boards. Those schools include:
MS 114, which will get $105,540 to buy 128 laptops and 8 laptop carts.
PS 151, which will get $52,400 for classroom laptops and carts.
PS 158, which will get $117,627 to get 144 laptops
PS 217 on Roosevelt Island, which will get $225,000 for active boards, computers, laptops, smart devices including tablets, iPads, chrome books, and cameras.
PS 290, which will get $40,000 for a laptop cart
PS 183, which will get $219,354 for laptop computer carts, 13 Macbook Pros, and a Mac server
MS 167, which will get $150,000 for a science lab upgrade for its eighth grade classroom
and the Manhattan International High School, which will get $164,632 for 120 laptops and 4 carts.
The money, set aside by City Councilman Ben Kallos, will include $975,000 for senior centers — including a new security system and handicap accessible door for the senior public housing home Robbins Plaza, and a large grant for the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, which serves seniors in need throughout the district.
Kallos has submitted these projects to the City Council as his top priorities. However, the final amount of councilmembers discretionary funds won’t be determined until June.
He set aside $150,000 for new gardens at the Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers public housing complexes, and $65,000 for a maintenance machine that will help keep local parks clean in all weather conditions. In addition, the 67th Street Library will receive a new $40,000 security system and the Lexington Houses will receive new refrigerators and stoves for 448 apartments.
About 500 people voted in this year’s participatory budget process, the first time it was used in District 5. However, Kallos’s office is hopeful that more people will take part next year.
“This was the first year our community did participatory budgeting, and the process gave me great confidence in the continued success of this program,” Kallos said in a statement to his constituents.
This year was an abbreviated version of the normal process. During the full process, the community generates ideas for projects, presents them at a public forum and then votes. Because Kallos started his term in January, there was no time to seek proposals from the community. Instead, his staff sought out relevant city projects in need of funding that constituents voted on.