CHICAGO — Starting next week, residents of the 45th Ward will get to choose among 15 different infrastructure upgrades designed to make public spaces safer and easier on the eyes.
Ald. John Arena (45th) is one of a handful of aldermen who open up their $1.3 million in annual ward spending to the participatory budgeting process, which asks constituents to vote on how they'd like to see the money spent.
Each ward's discretionary budget is dedicated to infrastructure projects, with about half typically slated for road re-paving. Ald. Joe Moore (49th) was the first to invite constituents to vote on how to spend the annual sum, and since then a handful of other aldermen, including Gilbert Villegas (36th) and Anthony Napolitano (41st), have followed suit.
After flagging participation led Arena to skip the last round of participatory budgeting, Arena is expanding this year's process to allow online voting, his staff announced. Early voting kicks off next Monday, with the last ballots slated to be accepted on Oct. 28.
First, voters will decide how much of the budget should be spent on re-paving streets and repairing curbs and sidewalks. Based on the amount chosen, officials will prioritize the following projects based on how many votes they receive:
• An LED lighting display under the Milwaukee Avenue Metra viaduct in Jefferson Park, as previewed last week. Estimated cost ranges from $140,00 to $240,000, depending on how extensive the new lights are.
• A $75,000 sidewalk bump-out next to Hitch Elementary School at the intersection of Bryn Mawr and McVicker avenues. It would join another bump-out one block east, announced earlier this year through a county grant.
• A $175,000 facelift of the Jefferson Park Public Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave., including new lights, carpeting and sidewalk repairs
• A $15,000 sidewalk bump-out at the intersection of Dakin Street and Lamon Avenue in Portage Park
• A $75,000 sidewalk bump-out where Avondale Avenue meets the pedestrian bridge to the Gladstone Park Metra station
• A $70,00 sidewalk bump-out at the Higgins Avenue entrance to Jefferson Memorial Park, 5454 W. Higgins Ave.
• About a dozen hanging flower pots along business districts in Six Corners, Gladstone Park and downtown Jefferson Park. Estimated cost is $25,000.
• A $26,000 cluster of 17 new "decorative trash cans" along Lawrence Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue and Northwest Highway in Gladstone Park
• $70,000 to "replace fencing and improve lighting" at the entrance to the pedestrian bridge to the Gladstone Park Metra station
• Two new 1½-mile bicycle lanes, including marked shared lanes and separated lanes "where feasible." One lane would follow Austin Avenue from the Gladstone Park Metra station to Indian Road Park, 6010 W. Matson Ave. The other would trace Leclaire and Forest Glen avenues between the Jefferson Park Transit Center and the Forest Glen Woods. Estimated cost is $90,000.
• Between four and eight pieces of "adult exercise equipment" at Wilson Park, 4548 N. Lockwood Ave., and Austin-Foster Playlot Park, 6020 W. Foster Ave. Estimated cost is $50,000.
• "Streetscape improvements" including decorative business signs and wall murals near the Montrose Blue Line and Mayfair Metra stations in Old Irving Park. Estimated cost is $35,000.
• $100,000 for arches, a marquee or other distinctive signs to mark the entrance of Jefferson Memorial Park
• An extra $150,000 to replace sidewalks, on top of the money allocated through street re-paving. The money would pay to replace about three full blocks' worth of sidewalks, officials said.
• An extra $150,000 to replace curbs, on top of the money allocated through street re-paving. The money would pay to replace about three full blocks' worth of curbs, officials said.
More details on the proposals can be found on the 45th Ward participatory budgeting website.