JEFFERSON PARK — Ald. John Arena's $1 million discretionary budget for the 45th Ward is officially up for grabs.
Voting started Monday on about a dozen projects seeking a share of Arena's $1.3 million budget, which is sometimes known as "menu money," through a participatory budgeting process.
Among the choices are be $100,000 toward a new playground at Independence Park and $67,000 to help rehabilitate the cracked and pitted tennis courts at Wilson Park, said Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff.
This is the second year Arena will let voters decide how to spend his discretionary budget. All residents of the 45th Ward — under the 2015 City Council district map — age 14 and older can vote with proof of residence.
Voters will also determine what percentage of the 45th Ward discretionary budget will be used to repave streets in the ward. The ward, which includes Jefferson Park, Forest Glen and Gladstone Park as well as parts of Portage Park and Old Irving Park, has 800 residential blocks.
Last year's top vote getter — $120,000 to wash, paint and add pigeon netting and spikes to viaducts and underpasses throughout the ward — will be on this year's ballot as well, with $150,000 earmarked for 10 viaducts under the Kennedy Expressway and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
Voters will also get to choose whether to plant trees throughout the ward at a cost of $514 per tree, Brugh said. Many trees in the 45th Ward have been felled by the Emerald Ash Borer.
Other projects on the ballot include:
- $70,000 for bike lanes on Lawrence Avenue near Milwaukee Avenue.
- $10,000 for lights in the viaduct under the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along Avondale Avenue.
- $25,000 to replace the fences on the pedestrian bridge leading to the Gladstone Park Metra station.
- $20,000 for metal banners with the Jefferson Park chamber logo on 50 light poles near Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues.
- $35,700 for additional lights along Irving Park Road under the Kennedy Expressway in an effort to make it safer for pedestrians.
- $8,700 to buy three in-street bike racks for the Six Corners Shopping District.
Votes can be cast from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the 45th Ward Office, 4754 N. Milwaukee Ave., through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wilson Park Field House, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave.