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Choose How to Spend $1 Million in Hamilton Heights

By Gustavo Solis | April 2, 2015 4:19pm
 City Councilmember Mark Levine is letting Hamilton Heights residents decide how to spend $1 million.
Participatory Budgeting
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HAMILTON HEIGHTS — A public greenhouse, 100 trees, and a technology center for children are some of the projects proposed in the district's first go at participatory budgeting.

The program, in which City Council members set aside $1 million of their budget to let the community decide what to do with it, has been in New York City since 2011. This is the first time Councilman Mark Levine has participated.

“The ideas that have been put forward, some of them are really out of the box and original and innovating and they probably would not have emerged if it wasn’t for community input,” he said.

Some of those ideas include putting a public greenhouse in a community garden on 143rd Street and converting the basement of Hamilton Grange Library into a 600-square-foot after-school learning center, he added.

Apart from generating new ideas, participatory budgeting allows people to be more engaged in how their tax dollars are used.

“I had never been involved in government,” said Anthony Carrion , 24. “The process makes it easier for people to get involved and see how the city’s budget can be allocated for their needs. It’s really a great way for people to decide how that money gets spent.”

This maps shows where each project will be. Items in red are for parks and rec voting items, libraries are in yellow, housing in green, youth in blue and streets in purple.

Any District 7 resident 14 or older will be able to vote from April 13 to 19 at various locations. Find out the one nearest to your home here.

Votes will select five out of the 16 voting items. The most popular items will receive funding until the $1 million runs out.

Although this is only the first year District 7 has done this, the response has been overwhelming, Levine said.

“I’m a parent at a school on 103rd Street and I went to a parent teacher night last week,” he said. “On the way in a young man stopped me and said, ‘Excuse me sir, do you live here in the neighborhood?’ and gave me a full pitch about resurfacing the basketball court.”

Other projects include:

►Renovating playgrounds at the Grant and Manhattanville houses ($450,000 each)

►Repairing the elevator at the Hamilton Grange Library ($300,000)

►Upgrading the street lighting throughout parts of Amsterdam Avenue ($632,000)

►Electrical upgrades at Bloomingdale and Morningside Heights libraries ($500,000 each)

►Repairing the northern area of Riverside Park ($250,000)

►Planting 100 trees along the sidewalk between Riverside Drive and Broadway ($300,000)