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Halloran puts $1 million budget to vote

A canoe and kayak launch at Little Bay Park is one of the many community projects up for a vote through City Councilman Dan Halloran's participatory budgeting initiative.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Residents of northeast Queens working alongside City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) have finalized their ballot to determine how the district will spend $1 million in discretionary funds.

The participatory budgeting process kicked off last year with a series of community meetings where anyone could propose a project. The proposals went through a vigorous vetting process until the councilman and his constituents compiled a final ballot of the most financially feasible options.

Halloran was one of eight Council members to participate in the new process, in which $1 million in discretionary capital funding is set aside for pet projects coming directly from constituents.

“I’m proud to be one of the first Council members to engage in the experimental participatory budgeting process, which has been rolling along since the fall with great input from lots of constituents,” Halloran said. “I believe very strongly in government transparency. These projects are all worthwhile, especially because they came from the people.”

In Halloran’s 19th Council District, which includes neighborhoods from Flushing to Douglaston, constituents will vote for five of 18 projects stemming from categories like parks, transportation, education and public safety.

Parks proposals range from the installation of a bird-watching platform at Osprey Landing, kayak and canoe launches at Little Bay Park in Bay Terrace and MacNeil Park in College Point to sidewalk improvements at Fort Totten Park. Another option includes the creation of a special needs accessible playground at both Fort Totten and Crocheron parks.

In public safety, the two options on the ballot are the implementation of two new community affairs vehicles for each of the 109th and 111th precincts and the installation of police cameras for high crime areas in the same jurisdictions.

Potential upgrades for cultural institutions on the ballot include the restoration of the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, upgrades to the Bayside Historical Society castle at Fort Totten and improvements at the Whitestone Library.

Transportation-related upgrades include the rebuilding of curbs throughout the district as well as the beautification of Utopia Parkway between 39th Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

As for education, Halloran’s final ballot offers upgrades to various facilities and classrooms at different schools throughout the district.

Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, said he expected the educational initiatives to come out the big winners by the end of the voting.

“There are some issues that are very local and some that are universal,” Socci said. “I, for one, will be interested to see how the voting turns out. The idea is not to have community against community.”

Residents of northeast Queens will have one week to cast their votes for their most cherished projects, starting Monday, April 1, and ending the following Saturday, Halloran said. Votes will be collected at six different spots throughout the district, including the Community Board 11 office in Little Neck, the Community Church of Douglaston, the College Point Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Chabad of Northeast Queens, Maggie Moo’s of Bayside and Temple Beth Sholom in Flushing.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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