The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Uptown Street Trees, Senior Center, Library Win Share of $1M in Funding

 Kyshia Smith and Heidi Lopez explain how the five winning projects will share this year's $1 million in public funds.
Kyshia Smith and Heidi Lopez explain how the five winning projects will share this year's $1 million in public funds.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo

HARLEM — Everything from street trees to elevators at a public library were picked to receive a piece of $1 million in City Council funding under the community-driven participatory budgeting process.

The five winners, selected out of 21 community proposals, include:

► $210,000 to renovate the entrance of the Riverstone Senior Center in Washington Heights (708 votes)

► $400,000 to restore the exterior of the elevators at the Hamilton Grange Library (468 votes)

► $300,000 to plant 100 street tress and tree guards (449 votes)

► $75,000 to upgrade the science lab at Columbia Secondary School (418 votes)

► $35,000 for laptop carts for middle school students at Booker T. Washington (362 votes)

About 1,870 residents in District 7 voted, a drop from the approximately 2,300 who participated last year.

Heidi Lopez, director of community affairs for district representative Councilman Mark Levine, said his their office recognizes that it's not where they want to be in terms of participation. 

"This was a good year and we did well," Lopez said, "but there's a lot of people we're not reaching."

Despite this, Levine said the feedback during participatory budget has been "overwhelmingly positive." His office received more than 200 project ideas, which were whittled down to 21 and then again to the five finalists.

"The winners this year reflect every area of this community geographical and across interests as well," Levine said. "That’s democracy at it’s best."

The budget did got over "a tad bit" this year, Levine said, which is similar to what occurred last year when his office increased the public funds because of the "quality of the projects." 

Ilana Dunner, executive director of Riverstone Senior Center, was thrilled and cheered upon learning that her project received the most votes. 

"We thought we had a really great project," Dunner said, adding that she's looking forward to redoing the entrance and adding a garden to her building's entrance. According to Dunner, the center serves hundreds of seniors in the community daily.