JEFFERSON PARK — Milwaukee Avenue bicycle lanes, three people spots and improvements for the campuses of three elementary schools are among the projects set for the 45th Ward's Participatory Budgeting ballot this year.
Residents can learn more about the projects on the ballot at three project expos scheduled for the coming weeks by Ald. John Arena (45th). This is the third year he has allowed voters to spend his $1 million discretionary budget on a variety of projects.
In addition to choosing from a list of projects that have yet to be finalized, voters will decide what percentage of the budget should be used to resurface streets, Arena said.
All residents of the 45th Ward older than 14 are eligible to vote. The ward includes Jefferson Park and parts of Portage Park, Forest Glen, Gladstone Park and Old Irving Park.
The items expected to be up for a vote include:
• $60,000 for bicycle lanes on Milwaukee Avenue between Addison Street and Lawrence Avenue.
• $24,000 for people spots at Lawrence and Austin avenues; Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues; and Milwaukee and Cuyler avenues. People spots transform parking spots into playful places for people to gather, officials said. Each people spot costs $8,000 each, must be approved by the Chicago Department of Transportation and is maintained by local businesses or organizations.
• $88,000 for curb extensions at Milwaukee and Cuyler avenues; Milwaukee and Warner avenues; Milwaukee and Giddings Street; Central and Leland avenues; Central Avenue and Giddings Street; Central and Balmoral avenues; and Central and Catalpa avenues. Also known as pedestrian bump-outs, the project would be designed to make it safer for people to get around on foot. The plan must be approved by city transportation officials and requires the elimination of rush-hour-parking restrictions, officials said.
• $60,000 for a pedestrian refuge island at Cicero Avenue at Pensacola Avenue, to make it easier to get from the west side of Cicero Avenue to the Mayfair Metra station.
• $60,000 for a pedestrian refuge island on Lawrence Avenue at Lavergne Avenue. Lavergne Avenue would become one-way from Leland to Lawrence with the approval of a majority of the residents.
• Lighting and pedestrian improvements under the Kennedy Expressway at Pulaski Avenue and the sidewalk next to the expressway from Pulaski and Dakin avenues to Byron Street and Parkside Avenue. The cost has yet to be determined for this project, officials said.
• $100,000 for a $1.8 million project to remove all of the asphalt around Farnsworth Elementary School in conjunction with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the Chicago Public Schools.
• $100,000 for a project to smooth the field on the south end of the Hitch Elementary School campus in cooperation with the CPS.
• $100,000 for a project to replace much of the grass on the Disney II magnet high school and elementary school campus, which gets muddy and unusable, with a turf field in cooperation with CPS.
• A storage shed for Olive's Community Garden for the Hungry at Laramie Avenue and Ainslie Street.
The project expos are scheduled to take place:
• 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jefferson Park branch library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave.
• 6-8 p.m. April 14, Disney II Magnet School, 3900 N. Lawndale Ave.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m., April 15, Farnsworth Elementary School, 5414 N. Linder Ave.
Arena hosted five neighborhood assemblies in the fall to develop the list of infrastructure projects that residents will vote on April 27 through May 2.
Arena faces a runoff Tuesday in his bid for re-election against Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido.
Garrido said Arena's participatory budgeting process has been a "complete failure" because only about 1 percent of the ward's residents participated and voters do not have a "complete picture" of the condition of the ward's streets.
In 2013, approximately 650 residents voted in the election, and in 2014, 500 people cast a vote, according to Arena's office.
Early voting is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 27 to May 1 at the 45th Ward office, 4754 N. Milwaukee Ave. Voting on May 2 will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wilson Park Field House, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave.
For more information, call the 45th Ward office at 773-286-4545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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