The Council of the City of New York
Office of Costa Constantinides
For Immediate Release
April 20, 2017
Contact: Shachar Sharon
Constantinides Unveils Winning Participatory Budgeting Projects
A Record-Breaking 3,600 Votes Cast Throughout District
Astoria, N.Y. – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides today announced which capital projects won a district-wide vote to receive funding as part of the Participatory Budgeting program. A record-breaking 3,617 neighborhood residents cast their ballot, more than the previous two cycles of Participatory Budgeting in this district.
Voting was held from March 25th-April 2nd both online and at sites across the district including libraries, community spaces, offices, schools, subway stations, and senior centers. Residents voted for projects they wanted to receive capital funding from a ballot created by community volunteers.
The winning projects were:
1. New Tree Plantings ($36,000) – 1,471 votes
Plant new trees and install guards along District 22 streets. Final locations to be determined by the Parks Department.
2. Bus Countdown Clocks ($250,000) – 1,206 votes
Clocks will provide real-time travel info making MTA bus transit more efficient. Each clock costs $25,000. Locations to be determined by the Department of Transportation.
3. Accessible Entrance for Queens Library at Astoria ($250,000) – 1,140 votes
Add automatic sliding doors, fix driveway and, if needed, remove steps to benefit seniors and people with disabilities.
4. Technology Upgrades for District 22 Libraries ($125,000) – 1,044 votes
Most of the computer technology is out of date. An update would be very helpful for library staff and patrons.
5. Solar Panels for Queens Library at Steinway ($300,000) – 1,037 votes
Aside from the positive impact on the environment, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels lower electricity costs by up to 60%.
6. STEM Lab at The Young Women’s Leadership School ($60,000) – 1,036 votes
Update the current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Lab to include more laptops and 3D printers.
Constantinides also committed to allocate funding from his regular discretionary capital budget for the parking lot lighting installation at NYCHA Astoria Houses, which received 897 votes – more than double last year’s vote count for a similar lighting installation at the Astoria Houses basketball court. The full list of this cycle’s projects is available here.
As the first of many steps until the completion of these projects, they will be funded in the upcoming city budget, which will be passed in June. After the budget is passed, city agencies will seek further community input, put together designs, and go through planning stages before construction begins.
Constantinides said, “I am proud that we’ve had such enthusiasm for Participatory Budgeting once again this year. Seeing our vote total more than double from last year shows that neighborhood residents care about our public and community spaces. We are happy to provide this rewarding opportunity that brings the city budget process directly to our community members and helps keep our neighborhood civically engaged. This volunteer-driven process wouldn’t be possible without the help of everyone who assisted at a voting site or joined a budget delegate group. Thank you to all our volunteers for their hard work. We will continue to work with city agencies and community stakeholders as these capital projects are implemented.”
Participatory Budgeting provides an opportunity for residents to be involved in the city budget cycle. All the project proposals on the ballot were created by community volunteers. This past fall, nearly 700 residents attended neighborhood assemblies and idea collection sessions, and over 600 ideas were brainstormed. Volunteers broke into groups and transformed the list of ideas into a ballot of fully-formed project proposals with details and costs.
Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.