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Vallone announces first wave of planning for 2016 participatory budgeting

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has started the ball rolling on participatory budgeting projects in Council District 19 for next year.

City Council members who choose to enroll their districts in participatory budgeting help their communities choose how about $1 million of city discretionary funds are spent each year.

From improvements to schools, streets, parks or other community spaces, residents of Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, North Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Auburndale came out to help select what projects they liked best this year.

Some council members have been conducting participatory budgeting in their districts for several years, but 2014 was Vallone’s first. A tremendous effort by his staff got more than 2,300 residents over the age of 16 to vote, which was for some their first real experience in civic engagement.

Local civic leaders, community advocates and residents started planning and proposing specific projects last fall — four of which were chosen by voters this year. But because of such an outpouring of interest, Vallone managed to allocate city funding for three additional projects that did not get the votes they needed.

The first neighborhood planning assembly will be held Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Poppenhusen Institute, 114-04 14th Road, in College Point.

The second assembly is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in the basement of St. Luke’s Pastoral Center, 16-34 Clintonville St., in Whitestone.

The third assembly has been scheduled in Bayside on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. in the board room of the Bay Terrace Cooperative Section 1, the rear side of 13-65 212th St.

The fourth and final assembly in the first wave of participatory budget planning has been slated for Thursday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Community Church of Little Neck, 46-16 Little Neck Parkway, in Little Neck.

Once the project proposals are finalized, northeast Queens residents can vote on their favorites from March 26 through April 3 next year.

Anyone from the 19th Council District is being welcomed to join the assemblies to help choose what projects their neighbors will vote on. Vallone said he is also looking for people to volunteer as budget delegates to review the needs of the community, listen to ideas and help develop fully detailed project proposals.

For more information or to sign up, contact Vito Tautonico, who is spearheading the participatory budgeting process in Vallone’s office. Call 718-619-8611 or email vtautonico@council.nyc.gov.

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See more coverage at Queens Courier, Queens Gazette and Queens Chronicle.