EAST SIDE — Residents of the 10th Ward can help decide how to spend more than $1 million to improve their neighborhoods through a participatory budgeting program in the ward.
The next community meeting on the process is 6 p.m. Monday at Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza's office, 10500 S. Ewing Ave.
Each alderman in Chicago gets $1.3 million for infrastructure improvements such as paving streets and fixing parks.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) was the first council member to use participatory budgeting in 2009. Through the program, residents are given the opportunity to submit ideas for how to spend the money. From there, aldermen host community meetings in which those ideas are narrowed down, and eventually residents can vote on specific ideas.
According to Nicolas Robledo, an aide to Garza, 200 ideas were submitted in May and June ranging from repaving streets to solar-powered community kiosks. Popular ideas included converting abandoned pieces of land into parks.
The finalized list will come out in October, and then residents can vote on specific projects. The community representation group has been split up into committees with people working out the logistics of four different kinds of ideas: sidewalks, parks and recreation, safety, and arts and culture.
"So many great ideas are submitted and people want to do so much. It's a great learning experience for people to find out what things cost within the city especially for the 10th Ward. $1.3 million doesn't go far at all," Garza said.