Nearly 250 Niagara Falls residents cast their votes in the city's first-ever participatory budgeting project.
Dubbed PB360, the project empowers residents to choose how community block grant money will be spent, and is being initiated in a number of cities across the country including the City of Buffalo.
After several public hearings, direct voting took place throughout the month of August at community events and at “pop-up” polling places in various Niagara Falls parks. Residents could also cast votes in the Community Development office each Thursday in the month of August.
Once voting came to a close August 31, the 248 votes were counted.
"By going to the people putting the parks to use, we think we have come up with a list of projects that will really serve the city,” said city Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo.
A total of $360,000 in community block grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was available. Piccirillo said he believes the top five parks projects can be completed using those funds:
- 102 votes to build a new basketball court on the south side of Gill Creek Park - $15,000
- 99 votes to build a new basketball court in Hyde Park - $25,000
- 93 votes to build a new playground pod in Hyde Park - $75,000
- 85 votes to replace the outdated and damaged playground in Liberty Park - $200,000
- 81 votes to build a new shelter in Hyde Park - $10,000
Community Development is seeking other funding sources and cost-saving measures to complete the other approved projects, including enhanced security lighting in Gluck Park (75 votes/$75,000), additional benches in Hyde Park (65 votes/$8,000), construction of a walking path in Jerauld Park (61 votes/$20,000), construction of horseshoe pits in Jerauld Park (39 votes/$1,000) and planting ornamental trees in Wright Park (16 votes/$1,000).