CHICAGO — Neighbors who voted for infrastructure improvements in the 41st ward got surprising news from Ald. Anthony Napolitano Tuesday: Every project listed on the ballot will be funded this year.
Of the more than 1,200 constituents who took part in participatory budgeting this winter, a plurality voted to spend just 60 percent of the Napolitano's discretionary spending budget — the minimum option listed — toward street resurfacing, which is enough to pave about nine city blocks.
That leaves the rest of the $1 million budget to split among all the other projects listed, which include landscaping, new street lights and traffic safety improvements.
"Feedback has been through the roof from people who are floored that our first participatory budget isn't going to exclude anybody's ideas," Napolitano said Tuesday. "We're excited that it's all going to get done."
Participatory budgeting has been increasingly used by city aldermen to give residents more input into which infrastructure projects should be put on the front burner.
Napolitano brought the process to his ward for the first time last November, hosting public meetings to draft ideas for possible projects.
The following infrastructure projects were listed on the ballot, and will be all be funded this year, according to Napolitano:
• "Community garden landscaping" at Harlem and Avondale avenues, along the 6600 block of North Oliphant Avenue, and at Caldwell and Estes avenues
• "Business district improvements of existing ornamental tree grates and landscaping" around the intersection of Devon and Central avenues in Edgebrook
• "Added landscaping and ornamental tree grates" along Northwest Highway between Raven Street and Harlem Avenue
• Repaired and repainted street light poles along Higgins Avenue between Sayre and Harlem avenues, along Harlem Avenue between Fitch Avenue and Howard Street, along Harlem Avenue between Foster and Bryn Mawr avenues, and along Touhy Avenue between Harlem and Ozanam avenues
• "Additional lighting for shared space" around the Oriole Park Public Library and Oriole Park Elementary School, 5424 N. Oketo Ave.
• A fence "for safety of kids utilizing [the] play lot" at Grandparents Park, 5445 N. Chester Ave.
• Diagonal parking along Ionia Avenue between Minnehaha and Central avenues for the "safety of residents utilizing the combined [Edgebrook Public School] and park space"
• A "pedestrian refuge island" at the intersection of Avondale and Devon avenues "to ensure safety of residents crossing the busy intersection near Olympia Park"
• A security camera at Balmoral and Oketo avenues to monitor Oriole Park, 5340 N. Olcott Ave.
A total of $440,000 is being budgeted for all the projects, including $40,000 from the ward's "reserve" discretionary fund not originally up for participatory budgeting, Napolitano said.