If it were up to you, what would you fix in your neighborhood? New sidewalks? More trees or gardens? Renovations to your local community center? Well, now you may get your chance.
As discussed in articles from The New York Times, and the Daily News, Brad Lander, City Councilmember for the 39th district in Brooklyn, which includes Kensington, is bringing “Participatory Budgeting” to his constituents. The initiative, tried previously in Brazil as well as in Chicago in the United States, allows members of the community to have a direct say in how $1 million dollars in discretionary funds will be spent. Meetings have already begun throughout the district to pitch ideas and elect the neighborhood delegates who will ultimately craft the final proposals for spending the money. Residents will vote on the potential options.
Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) are also introducing Participatory Budgeting to their districts.
According to his website, Lander believes the process will make budgeting more transparent and allow residents to speak directly about what they believe are the most pressing needs in the district.
In addition to posters and flyers posted throughout the neighborhood, the KARMABrooklyn blog has been tracking the plan. The site includes an update with the schedule of meetings and links to further information.
The nature of the final projects will ultimately determine what sort of contracts are struck with city agencies and what economic effect the plan will have on the neighborhood. But there is certainly potential for an economic boost – whether it be improvements to Kensington’s business district or some combination of physical construction or art projects that bring more tourists to the area,
To Kensington residents, please take the following survey to help me get a deeper sense of how you feel about the Participatory Budgeting process and what projects you would like to see.