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New Trees, Library Upgrades Among West Side Projects Receiving $1M

 Residents living in Councilman Corey Johnson's district voted on which of 15 sites would get funding.
New Trees, Library Upgrades Among West Side Projects Receiving $1M
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CHELSEA — New trees, real-time bus arrival screens and a new middle school library will receive more than $1 million in funding following a community-wide vote.

Planting trees throughout Council District 3 — which includes Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village and parts of the Upper West Side, Flatiron and SoHo — was the top priority for voters who took part in this year’s participatory budgeting process, garnering 1,083 votes.

A total of $100,000 will go toward planting trees on blocks “with few or no trees” throughout the district, as recommended by community boards and block associations, Councilman Corey Johnson’s office said in a release.

An additional $100,000 will be used to install electronic boards with real-time bus arrival information at five “key bus stops” throughout the district, to be chosen by the community and the city’s Department of Transportation. That project received 790 votes, the release said.

The Muhlenberg Library at 209 W. 23rd St., at the corner of Seventh Avenue, will receive the largest amount of funding — $500,000 to replace its HVAC cooling unit — after receiving 858 votes.

The elementary school P.S. 11 at 320 W. 21st St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, will get $75,000 to install a new audiovisual system in its auditorium, to “fulfill curriculum requirements for students." 

City Knoll Middle School at 425 W. 33rd St., between Ninth and 10th avenues, will be able to build its first library after securing $300,000 in funding.

Those projects received 813 and 686 votes, respectively.

Fifteen items were on the ballot during this year’s participatory budgeting process, which allows the community to pick projects to receive money allotted by their district’s City Council member.

Students and staff at City Knoll — which opened in 2014 — were “ecstatic” about the news, Principal Victoria Armas said.

“We’re just so grateful and excited about this. It will be a wonderful addition to our resources and the community,” she said.

The school currently has classroom libraries, but the funding will allow it to build a new, tech-updated library in a space that is currently “empty and old,” she said.

Muhlenberg Library patrons, meanwhile, will be able to keep cool during the summer months, branch manager Lateshe Lee said.

Both Lee and Armas said a timeline for the upgrades has not yet been determined.

“We’re really excited about it, our patrons are really excited about it,” Lee said. “This branch has been here since 1906, so we definitely need something that’s updated, that can cool the entire branch.”