Participatory Budgeting voting underway

Residents have one week – until April 15 – to vote on how to spend a portion of their local tax dollars.

A citywide government program called Participatory Budgeting allows citizens to vote on how the local council member will spend part of his money – up to $1 million — in the district. Sixteen projects are up now for consideration, and range in cost from $35,000 to $1 million. Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. has opted into the program for the past two years.

The proposals are largely improvements to local schools, including a playground upgrade at PS 75 in Longwood, auditorium renovations at IS 116 and Girls Prep, and Chromebooks and smartboards for the Bronx Charter School for the Arts in Hunts Point. But there are also projects that will upgrade St. Mary’s Houses grounds, plant new trees in Vidalia Park, and add more exercise machines at the Hunts Point Recreation Center. Residents can vote for up to five projects.

The list below shows each proposal as well as cost and location:

PS 75: complete refurbishment of the playground; $600,000; 984 Faile St.

PS 75: central air conditioning for the auditorium; $750,000; 984 Faile St.

Forest Avenue Campus auditorium renovations; including lighting, curtains, sound system and seating; $1 million; 778 Forest Ave.

PS 67: gym renovation with partition so younger children have a separate play area than the older students; $322,235; 2024 Mohegan Ave.

IS 116: auditorium upgrades, including sound, projection and lighting systems and chair repairs; $800,000; 977 Fox St.

PS 352: smartboards for all classrooms; $448,800; 984 Faile St.

Concourse Village Elementary School: convert classroom into a library; $550,000; 750 Concourse Village West

MS 302 Girls Prep Academy: full renovation of the auditorium; $600,000; 681 Kelly St.

PS 161: media library renovation; $450,000; 628 Tinton Ave.

PS 352: construction of a sensory room to be utilized by students with special needs and who are visually or verbally impaired; $100,000; 984 Faile St.

Bronx Charter School for the Arts: 55 Chromebooks for students, 20 laptops for teachers, 12 Smart Boards, 2 TVs, sound system and video camera; $150,000; 950 Longfellow Ave.

MS 42: exterior lighting of stairwells to increase safety; $100,000; 730 Bryant Ave.

Hunts Point Recreation Center: upgrades to exercise machines, equipment and increase the space for physical activity; $100,000; 765 Manida St.

Casita Maria: kitchen renovation, including installation of new cabinetry, sink, stove/hot plate, and kitchen equipment for cooking education; $50,000; 928 Simpson St.

Vidalia Park: new trees and tree guards; $35,000; East 180 Street between Daly and Vyse avenues

St. Mary’s Park Houses: grounds renovation with new benches and other upgrades; $300,000

Votes can be submitted online,  or in person at these nine sites in the district:
Community Center, 760 Melrose Ave. Open polling times: 10 am – 4 pm, April 7-15

Phoenix Estates Community Room, 739 Coster St. Open polling times: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., April 7-15

Hunts Point Alliance for Children Lending Library, 889 Hunts Point Ave. Open polling times: 10 am – 4 pm, April 9-13

The Point, 940 Garrison Ave. Open polling times: 10 am – 4 pm, April 9-13

Hunts Point Library, 877 Southern Boulevard. Open polling times: 10 am – 4 pm, April 7-15

Community Board 1, 3024 Third Ave, Open polling times: 10 am – 4 pm, April 9-13

Community Board 2, 1029 E 163rd St #202, Open polling times: 10 am – 4 pm, April 9-13

Participatory budgeting was a process that originated in Brazil during the 1980s for improvements in public welfare. In addition to District 17, 30 other districts in New York City participate in this initiative. Nearly 60 percent of the projects funded across the city from last year’s cycle were education-related.

The winning proposals will be announced some time in May.

For more information, call Councilman Salamanca’s office at 718-402-6130, or visit his office at 1070 Southern Boulevard.