CHICAGO — Residents of the 36th Ward are about to be mined for ideas on how to improve their streets and parks, as Ald. Gilbert Villegas ramps up for his second straight year of participatory budgeting.
The open voting process has been increasingly used by city aldermen to give residents more input into which infrastructure projects should be put on the front burner. Last year, it resulted in a rehabilitated basketball court at Blackhawk Park, 2348 N. Lavergne Ave.; a new playground at Chicago Academy Elementary School, 3400 N. Austin Ave.; and a host of projects aimed at improving traffic safety.
Villegas hopes to see 2,000 of his constituents vote in the survey this year, nearly double the number who lent their voices in 2016.
"Participatory Budgeting was part of my platform when I was elected, but it has already surpassed what I had hoped for," Villegas wrote in a statement. "This is so much more than transparent government. Its the right thing to do."
The alderman's office will start collecting ideas for the ballot with three public assemblies next week:
• At 6 p.m. Monday at Community First Medical Center, 5645 W. Addison St.
• At 6 p.m. June 13 at West Belmont Library, 3104 N. Narragansett Ave.
• At 6:30 p.m. June 15 at Iglesia Evangelica Emanuel, 5017 W. Armitage Ave.
Anyone who can't make the meetings is encouraged to submit ideas online.