RED HOOK — Participatory budgeting is back for a third time in District 38 with the first meeting scheduled for next week in Red Hook to allow residents to decide how city funds should be spent in their neighborhood.
Councilman Carlos Menchaca has allocated $2 million of taxpayer money for capital improvement projects that residents will suggest and vote on. The first neighborhood assembly will be held Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Red Hook Library, located at 7 Walcott St.
The neighborhood assembly will serve as an introductory meeting for what can be expected from the process over the next nine months, Menchaca said.
Community members should come armed with questions, concerns and ideas they'd like to pitch for funding this year.
"Everybody in the community is welcome," he said. "Your voice is powerful and is needed."
District 38, which includes Red Hook, Sunset Park, South Slope, parts of Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, has had the highest number of participatory budgeting votes since the process started two year ago. Nearly 6,300 residents voted for 2014's projects, officials said earlier this year.
"Every year we get more and more people involved in the process," Menchaca said.
Past projects have shown the district is particularly concerned about its local parks and schools, he said.
In May, the councilman announced that multiple schools had won funding for technology upgrades, new lighting and improved infrastructure in last year's participatory budgeting session.
Those projects were inserted into the city's capital budget, which passed in July, he said. City agencies will begin working on bringing them to fruition this fall.
In a process similar to participatory budgeting, Menchaca recently used the model to determine how $2 million in capital funds should be spent in Red Hook's parks.
Locals were asked to submit ideas and the Department of Parks and Recreation is currently vetting those proposals, which they hope to announce in the coming months.
Here are the upcoming dates for participatory budgeting meetings in District 38:
Sept. 17: 6:30 p.m. at The Miccio Center, 110 West 9th St. in Red Hook
Sept. 20: noon to 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Health, 526 59th St. in Sunset Park (Spanish and English language assembly)
Sept. 22: 6 p.m. at Red Hook Justice Center, 88 Visitation Pl. in Red Hook
Sept. 23: 6:30 p.m. at Community Board 7, 4201 Fourth Ave. in Sunset Park
Oct. 3: 6:30 p.m. at Sunset Park Recreation Center, Seventh Avenue at 43rd Street in Sunset Park (Chinese language assembly)