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New Dog Run, Park and School Upgrades Coming to Astoria

 The projects were the participatory budgeting winners in City Councilman Costa Constantinides' district.
Participatory Budgeting in Astoria
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ASTORIA — Local residents voted to fund a new dog run and technology upgrades for several neighborhood schools, officials said Wednesday.

The projects won the most votes in City Councilman Costa Constantinides' participatory budgeting program, which lets residents pick how they'd like to spend $1 million in taxpayer funds.

Of the 18 proposals on the ballot, a plan to allocate $35,000 for technology upgrades to each of seven schools in the neighborhood won with 825 votes, according to the councilman's office. 

The schools set to get the funding are P.S. 84, P.S. 122, P.S. 234, I.S. 235, P.S. 17, P.S. 2, and I.S. 141.

Another 773 people voted to spend $500,000 to build a dog run under the Triborough Bridge, turning one of the basketball courts on Hoyt Avenue into a park for pooches, a conversion long pushed for by local dog owners.

The project that came in third is a plan to turn an asphalt lot at I.S. 126 into a public park, something that the city proposed several years ago but scrapped due to budget cuts. The renovation will now get $500,000.

"We're thrilled," said Melissa Lee, a local mom who also runs a medical practice across the street from I.S. 126, located on 21st Street near 31st Road. She said the park won't just benefit the school but will be open to the public as well.

"It's something that we all cared about so much," she said.

The budgets of the three winning plans came in over the $1 million mark, so Constantinides said he'll be allocating $245,000 from his discretionary funds to cover them all.

"We all look forward to seeing these winning projects be implemented," the council member said in a statement. "The entire process has been community-driven, inclusive and engaging."

Ideas that didn't make the cut for funding included a proposal for a dog run in Jackson Heights, renovating the basketball court at the Astoria Houses and building a pedestrian plaza at Newtown Avenue and 32nd Street.