It’s Participatory Budgeting Time Now. Communities Claim Their Share


“I’m very excited as we begin this Participatory Budgeting cycle,” City Council Member Julie Menin said in a press release. She represents Roosevelt Island, among other neighborhoods, and she wants the community get a slice of the $1 million at stake.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

What is Participatory Budgeting?

Got an infrastructure idea for Roosevelt Island that serves the public? Need funding? Participatory Budgeting might be the answer.

The Not for Tourists Guide to New York City

Officially, Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Simply put, you get a role in how the city spends your tax dollars, and Menin wants Roosevelt Island involved.

When I called her for clearer details, a week battling COVID failed to dampen her enthusiasm. The program covers “…physical infrastructure projects that benefit the public, cost at least $50,000, and have a lifespan of at least 5 years,” she said.

Projects like local improvements to schools, parks, libraries, housing and other public spaces are eligible. Locally, PB partly funded the recently opened Green Roofs and Learning Lab project at PS/IS 217.

“Participatory budgeting is a great way to get the pulse of the community and formulate the best use of city dollars,” she said earlier in a press release.

Ideas Aplenty But Time Is Short

Project ideas needn’t be fully hatched, but they must fit with the pace of the city’s annual budgeting process. That means, for the moment, that potential projects must be submitted by January 23rd. Propose your idea at this Council District 5 website. Walking through the process is uncomplicated, but Menin’s office will help, in any case.

“Should you know any organizations that wants to be a part of the PB process,” Menin’s Chief of Staff Jonathan Szott told The Daily, “I will put them in contact with William Yee who is coordinating participatory budgeting for our office.” 

Possibilities for funding jump to mind immediately. RIVAA Gallery needs a new heating and air conditioning system… An upgrade to the garden space the Carter Burden Network started at the Senior Center… Improvements to the unsightly Motorgate Atrium… Better, even interactive signage directing visitors to restaurants, services and historic sites… Others have many more on their wish lists.

So, let’s get going, Roosevelt Island. You are “…are invited to share project ideas that could be implemented within Julie Menin’s 5th Council District by visiting this website and sharing proposals by January 23rd, 2022.”

What are you waiting for?

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