Participatory budgeting is a boring name for an important process that gives Upper East Side residents a true voice in how their tax dollars are spent in a game-show-like fashion. This year, however, instead of just one million dollars earmarked for the three winning projects, Council Member Julie Menin has doubled the money to nearly two million dollars to pay for things like more trees, school and safety improvements.
“This year’s participatory budgeting cycle was a phenomenal success and I thank our schools, nonprofits and government partners for helping to get our residents involved,” said New York City Council Member Julie Menin, “Every vote counts in Participatory Budgeting and I am proud to raise my commitment to nearly $2 million to fund an additional three projects in our district.”
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The top project among voters with 1,641 ballots cast, is $150,000 to pay for the installation of 30 new trees within District 5, which is primarily comprised of the eastern half of the UES, Roosevelt Island, Sutton Place and a small part of East Harlem, as well as tree guards to keep them protected.
Meanwhile, Stanley Issacs Park, located on First Avenue between East 95th and 96th Streets, will be the beneficiary of $420,000 in tax dollars to install new lighting in the Upper East Side park.
“Thank you to the people of the Upper East Side for voting to expand our urban forest and add lighting to Stanley Isaacs Playground hockey rink,” said NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner Anthony Perez, “Each and every tree makes our neighborhoods greener and healthier. These investments will enrich the neighborhood for decades to come.”
Upper East Side schools are also set to see new upgrades move forward, including those meant to keep students and faculty safe. Council Member Menin has allocated $450,000 for security cameras within two schools, Isador E. Ida Straus School and the Lower Lab School, co-located at 1700 Third Avenue, between East 95th and 96th Streets.
East Side Middle School, located on East 91st Street near First Avenue, will receive $105,000 for Macbook Air computers, three Chromebook computers and four laptop carts to store the equipment. PS 217 on Roosevelt Island is also slated to get $300,000 for bathroom renovations.
The final project funded through this year’s participatory budgeting process is a much-needed safety upgrade at the New York City Housing Authority’s Holmes Towers, located on First Avenue between East 92nd and 93rd Street. Menin has allocated half a million dollars to fund the installation of 33 new surveillance cameras on floors where none are present.
With a total of 4,458 votes cast, Menin says Upper East Siders made their voices heard in larger numbers than any other district in Manhattan and had the second-highest turnout citywide.
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“It’s extraordinary that our district finished first in Manhattan and demonstrates our community’s dedication to civic engagement,” Council Member Menin explained, “I look forward to continuing this momentum in the future.”
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