LITTLE VILLAGE — A mural and new lights for the neighborhood's largest park were projects that received top votes from 22nd Ward residents who weighed in how aldermanic menu money should be spent this year.
This was the first year for participatory budgeting — a system in which residents help decide how to spend a chunk of the $1.3 million in ward money — for members of Ald. Ricardo Muñoz's 22nd Ward.
More than 600 residents turned out to cast votes on projects ranging from basic infrastructure maintenance to new lights for Little Village's Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St.
Chloe Riley chats about the 22nd Ward projects that residents voted to fund:
Winning projects include additional lighting throughout the ward ($16,000), residential and school zone speed bumps ($37,000), sports field lighting at Piotrowski Park ($250,000), sidewalk repairs ($240,000), and plans for a mural on the South Central Park viaduct between 22nd and 23rd streets ($60,700).
Munoz said he plans to fund an additional $3,700 for the completion of the mural.
Residents who voted were required to allocate some funding for street resurfacing, the only mandatory category. They chose to spend 40 percent of the budget, or $400,000, on that expense.
The voting process initially took place over five days at four locations around the ward. However, after low turnout during the first three days, additional mobile voting stations were added at Farragut Career Academy, Little Village High School and 26th Street's La Chiquita grocery, according to 22nd Ward spokesman Abdul-Aziz Hassan.
"We didn’t really know going into it. But once we started the actual process, we saw some of the limitations of having polling locations and expecting people to turn out," said Hassan, who pointed to 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore's use of mobile polling stations in his ward's participatory budgeting process. (Moore had 27 mobile stations this year with a turnout of over 1,700 people).
"To really go out and get people who may not have been initially engaged in the process … you have to go out to them," Hassan said.
Ward members can follow the progress of the various projects at the People's Budget 22 Facebook page.