CHICAGO — New murals, bike racks and neighborhood signs are among the litany of options awaiting 36th Ward residents on this year's participatory budgeting ballot, which is open for voting until Oct. 27.
Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) is one of a handful of aldermen who open up their $1.3 million annual infrastructure budgets up to the voting process, which asks constituents to choose how they'd like to see the money spent.
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:
• $55,000 to beautify the West Belmont Public Library, 3104 N. Narragansett Ave., and make it wheelchair-accessible
• $95,000 for a new mural and diagonal parking lot outside the Word of Life Church of God, 2254 N. Narragensett Ave.
• $40,000 for new security measures, garbage cans, drinking fountains and benches for Locke Elementary School, 2828 N. Oak Park Ave.
• $125,000 for "structural and aesthetic" improvements to the pedestrian tunnel in Rutherford-Sayre Park, 6871 W. Belden Ave., according to Justin Heath, Villegas' director of policy.
After "leaks and cracks" are repaired, a mural would be painted in the tunnel by artist Rich Alapak, Heath said. The project would memorialize Isaias Ceja, a Prosser Career Academy graduate who was fatally struck by a Metra train near the park earlier this year.
• $100,000 for traffic circles at five residential intersections around the ward. The item would also fund new garbage cans along Armitage, Belmont, Grand and Fullerton avenues and Addison Street.
• $50,000 for 10 metal "neighborhood celebration signs" in each of the five neighborhoods touched by the ward: Portage Park, Montclare, Dunning, Belmont-Cragin and Hermosa.
The money would also fund 40 bike racks, spread among all 14 schools and three parks in the ward, built by the non-profit Bikes N' Roses.
• $55,000 for an automated irrigation system for the community garden outside Prosser, to replace the single hose currently run from the school.
Ward residents can vote online until Oct. 27. They can also vote in person at Villegas' ward office, 6934 W. Diversey Ave., or at the West Belmont Public Library.
The results will be announced Oct. 30., Heath said.