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Schools Top Priority in 35th Ward Budgeting Process

By Paul Biasco | May 12, 2016 5:59am
 Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa launched participatory budgeting in the 35th Ward this year.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa launched participatory budgeting in the 35th Ward this year.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LOGAN SQUARE — Schools are the most pressing issue in the 35th Ward, according to hundreds of voters who participated in the first participatory budgeting process in the ward last week.

The process, which was implemented by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), allows residents to vote on how approximately $1 million of discretionary ward money should be spent.

Of the nine categories voted upon, school improvements won the most votes followed by pedestrian safety and parks and outdoors.

Approximately 650 residents voted over the past week, choosing three of the nine topics.

After calculating the cost of the improvements residents voted on, the ward office determined the top five specific projects that will be funded. 

They are:

• Site preparation for new playground at Nixon School, including increasing the brightness of lights on the playground.

• Soccer turf and goal posts at Murphy School, including field construction, goal posts and the installation of a 25-foot-by-70-foot soccer field.

• Traffic safety improvements at North Elston, North Christiana and North Waveland, including a refuge island and shared bike lanes at the intersection.

• Pedestrian safety improvements at Nixon School, including residential street bump outs to slow traffic.

• Improved accessibility for all with a wheelchair ramp at the Logan Square Blue Line Station.

Turnout in the first participatory budgeting process was strong, according to the alderman's office.

Ramirez-Rosa, who is in his first term, announced his plans to make ward politics more transparent and inclusive after being elected last year.

Allowing residents to vote on how ward money should be spent was part of those plans.

Several other Chicago aldermen also utilize the process, but they are by far in the minority on the City Council.

Ald. Milly Santiago (31st) had about 300 people vote in her ward, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) had about 800 voters, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) had 120 votes and Ald. Joe Moore (49th) had about 2,000, according to Ramirez-Rosa's office.

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