May 17, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
Projects benefiting two local schools and the NYPD were selected by voters to receive funding in last month’s Council District 19 Participatory Budgeting vote.
The Participatory Budgeting vote, which decides what projects the local City Council representative will fund, took place from March 30 to April 7.
P.S. 129 came out on top with the highest number of votes, winning $400,000 of funding to renovate its gymnasium.
“The staff at our school worked very hard to engage our community in voting,” said P.S. 129 Principal Marilyn Alesi. “Our PE teachers went to the extent of volunteering to be duct taped to the wall of the gymnasium if the children encouraged their families to vote.”
A proposed green biome at Bayside High School received the second highest number of votes. The school will receive $500,000 to establish the biome on the property, which will provide students with the opportunity for hands-on learning about hydroponics, solar energy, recycling and urban gardening.
“The students, parents, and staff of Bayside High School are thrilled to have learned that their dream of a Green Biome/Environmental Science and Sustainability Center will be fulfilled,” said Bayside High School Assistant Principal Jonathan Hirata. “Council Member Vallone’s Participatory Budgeting initiative introduced Bayside High School students to the political process and allowed them to express their voices through civic participation. The Green Biome will be a cutting edge learning facility for our students as well as a community center. It will continue to raise awareness about the importance of environmental sustainability in the community.”
Voters also chose to grant the NYPD $141,000 to fund four new security cameras, with the project receiving the third highest number of votes.
“Security cameras are a deterrent to crime,” said Jack Fried, President of 111th Precinct Community Council. “Our community is grateful to Councilman Vallone for recognizing the need and for helping us to keep the 111th community safe.”
More than 8,500 residents cast their vote by selecting which five of the 20 proposed projects they felt would most benefit the community. The three projects with the highest number of votes were then given funding.
The district had the highest participatory budgeting vote turnout in the city, Council Member Paul Vallone announced.
“The results once again clearly show that Northeast Queens has overwhelmingly embraced the success of the participatory budgeting process,” said Vallone. “This grassroots process encourages voter participation at a time when voter turnout is at a record low and is a great way to teach our youth the power and importance of voting. This tremendous effort could not have been possible without the continuous dedication of our delegates, community liaisons, volunteers, staff and Vito Tautonico, our Director of Constituent Services, who spearheaded the process.”