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School Upgrades and Community Garden Among Proposed Projects for Funding

 One of the proposals is to create a new chess area at Inwood Hill Park. The current area is outdated and sits within a playground, posing a problem for adults who want to play chess, but are not accompanying children.
One of the proposals is to create a new chess area at Inwood Hill Park. The current area is outdated and sits within a playground, posing a problem for adults who want to play chess, but are not accompanying children.
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DNAinfo/CarlaZanoni

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — An outdoor chess area in Inwood Hill Park, a community food garden and new playgrounds for local elementary schools are some of the projects Uptown residents will have the chance to vote on during District 10's participatory budgeting process.

This is the first time Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has taken part in participatory budgeting, which allows City Council members to set aside $1 million of their piece of the capital budget and lets the community decide how to use it. 

Uptown residents will now have the chance to vote on 12 project proposals, which were developed with community input, beginning this Saturday. More than one project may be funded, depending on the costs of the top-voted items.

Rodriguez will host a project expo at the Washington Heights Library on Saturday from 12 to 2 p.m. to help residents learn more about each proposal. The event will also kick off the voting period, which runs from April 11 to 19. 

Many of the projects on the roster involve upgrades to local schools, including updates to the auditorium at the Salome Ureña school campus, upgrading plumbing at the Amistad and Muscota schools or installing a recording studio to support musical education at I.S. 143.

Other proposals call for a new outdoor fitness center in Inwood Hill Park, repairing the more than century-old façade of the Fort Washington Library, or installing a fence in Highbridge Park to prevent illegal dumping.

Library projects are identified in yellow, parks projects in red and youth projects in blue.

District 10 residents can vote on the projects at various locations throughout the neighborhood.

“The reason we were interested in doing participatory budgeting is because it engages community members who aren’t necessarily engaged in things like regular voting,” said Lucas Acosta, a spokesman for Rodriguez.

Acosta noted that participatory budget voting is open to a wider range of people than regular voting, including those who are 14 and older and those who don’t have citizenship.

“That’s one of the things the councilman was really excited about,” Acosta said. “It’s empowering [nearly] every resident of District 10 to have a voice in the community’s future.”

Voters need to bring proof they live in the district and are 14 or older. A list of elligible documents is available here.