District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo: Sewing Circles, Garden Tool Library & More

PARK SLOPE – Excitement about new possibilities in District 39 ran high at the Participatory Budgeting Project Expo at the Park Slope Library on Tuesday night.

“I think there’s a strong argument to be made that this ballot has more good things to vote for than any ballot in the history of American democracy!” declared Council Member Brad Lander.

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

The room buzzed with conversation about the seven capital and ten expense projects on the ballot this year. A total of $50,000 is available for the expense projects and $1.5 million is available for the capital projects.

Any district resident age eleven or older can vote through April 11 at PBNYC39.com or at an in-person location.

Votes will be accepted Saturday, April 6 at:
Carroll Park House (between Court & Smith Streets) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Park Slope Armory YMCA (361 15th Street) from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m,
Brooklyn Museum First Saturday Celebration (200 Eastern Parkway) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Votes will be accepted Sunday, April 7 at:
P.S. 230 Lower School (425 McDonald Avenue) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Old Stone House (336 3rd Street) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More information about each of the projects is below and at PBNYC39.com.

Expense Projects
(vote for 3—the winning projects will receive up to $50,000 in funding)

Project: Diaper Changing Stations for Parks & Playgrounds
Location: Nine locations around the district
Cost: $6,500
Description: Many of the public bathrooms in District 39’s parks and playgrounds are lacking diaper changing stations. Installing these in public bathrooms of all genders would provide safer and more sanitary diaper changing experience for the children and caregivers of District 39.

“This project would add diaper changing stations in 9 playgrounds and parks, including Prospect Park,” said David Seideman. “Both men and women need this amenity, but I almost never see diaper changing stations in men’s rooms. There’s lots of men raising kids now but society hasn’t caught up.”

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: Trash Bins for Clean Streets
Location: District-wide
Cost: $8,000
Description: Installation of high-volume trash bins on streets with heavy foot traffic.

“We want to put 8-10 permanent, covered waste baskets in areas with high pedestrian traffic,” said Angelica Ramdhari. “There’s a big trash problem in areas with high pedestrian traffic, like on Church Avenue by the F train. We want to prevent spillage onto the street which attracts pests like rats.”

Council Member Brad Lander at the District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: Garden Train Tool Lending Depot at Old Stone House
Location: Old Stone House, 336 3rd St.
Cost: $7,000
Description: A tool lending “library” led by Garden Train, the D15 School Gardens Consortium, and housed at Old Stone House for use by District 15’s School Gardens.

“Not all school gardens in District 39 have access to tools, so we want to create a library for shared tools that would allow them to borrow something, like a wheelbarrow, for a week,” said Rob Price, a father of two children at P.S. 372. “The schools have built really enriching science programs around nature. Especially in the city, kids get a lot of value out of seeing a seed grow into a plant they can eat.”

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: Strengthen D15 Middle School Choice Process
Location: All 11 District 15 Middle Schools
Cost: $15,000
Description: The video project will support the District 15 Diversity Plan that is underway to create more integrated and inclusive schools. Funding will be used to create multilingual virtual tours of the eleven D15 public middle schools as an alternative to in-person tours. The videos will capture the emotional spirit of the schools to give a feel for the community, philosophy, and human elements.

Project: Young Adult Space at Pacific Library
Location: Pacific Library, 25 4th Ave
Cost: $5,000
Description: Add seating and side tables to create a collaborative mezzanine space for young adults to relax, do online research, and charge devices.

“The Pacific branch is as much a community center as it is a library – it’s more than a place to check out books,” said Julie Katzenberger, who has volunteered at the library for six years. “Right now the space is very plain, but if our project is funded we’ll be able to fit more people in the space. It can be a place for teens to work after school, go on their computers, maybe even record a podcast.”

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: Train Spanish-Speaking Teens to be Educators
Location: One World Project, Windsor Terrace
Cost: $16,000
Description: Train and hire 9 Spanish-speaking teens as “Counselors-in-Training” (CITs) at the One World Project (OWP) for 6 weeks. CITs learn about child development and teaching, and work with children in the OWP summer program.

“On a typical day you spend the morning learning about the social development of kids, then in the afternoon you work with the kids, doing crafts or going to the park,” said Gaia Gamboa Arzate, who was one of three CIT counselors in the pilot program last summer.

“I love the school, they’re doing very good things,” said Sal Garro, father of a preschooler. “It’s a good opportunity for teens and it benefits Windsor Terrace, Spanish-speakers, and youth.”

Project: Repairs for Community-Based Housing Organization
Location: Brooklyn Housing & Family Services, Kensington
Cost: $15,000
Description: Make plumbing, flooring, and plaster repairs in the office of Brooklyn Housing and Family Services so it can be a welcoming, functional space to serve tenants and homeowners.

“We have a sewage line we need to unclog, plaster that needs to be fixed, carpeting we need to put in,” said Jonathan Goss, Director of Neighborhood Preservation Services, who has worked at the organization for 29 years. “We really understand what it’s like when residents can’t get services – we had a termite issue last week and had to wait hours for an exterminator.”

“We have a policy that we never turn anyone who’s asking for help away, so we want more people to feel more comfortable when they come in,” Goss said. “We’re seeing a lot of people who can’t afford where they live. It’s become the business of housing instead of the business of housing families.”

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: Livestream Equipment for Activists
Location: Interference Archive
Cost: $7,460
Description: Purchase and install audio-visual equipment to enable live-streaming of public events and podcasts about the history of social movements. This equipment will be also accessible to any community member for work aligned with Interference Archive’s mission.

“We believe that history belongs to everyone so we want to give access to everyone,” said Jen Hoyer, a longtime member of the all-volunteer team that staffs the archive four days each week. “The main thing is the video camera and cables required for the livestream – we don’t have the money for them. We don’t have money in general.”

Project: Bilingual Mental Health First Aid Training
Location: Kensington
Cost: $7,600
Description: Map needs of Kensington families with regard to mental health through focus groups and deliver bilingual, culturally-competent programs to empower people with skills and knowledge needed to address these challenges, including Mental Health First Aid trainings.

“Our thing is let’s talk, because that’s what’s not happening in the community,” said Sharmin Hoque of Muslims Thrive. “We will start with a community assessment and develop three workshops based on our findings. We want to help regular people talk to their family and friends about what they’re going through and give them a toolkit of strategies and resources.”

“We wanted to have a Muslim-specific program, because mental health is not monolithic – even within the Muslim community it’s not monolithic,” said Hoque.

Council Member Brad Lander at the District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: Sewing Circles for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Location: Kensington
Cost: $10,000
Description: Offer 5 group sessions led by trauma-informed therapists to help Bangladeshi women in the community share their experiences, learn where they can get help, and heal.

“It’s still hard to address domestic violence in the South Asian community and reach women. It’s a conservative society and women fear if they report they could be deported, they have no idea of their rights,” said Shyda Rashid, Domestic Violence Program Manager at Sakhi for South Asian Women. “We believe partners and families will allow women to go to a sewing circle and there they can learn the signs of domestic violence and who to contact.”

“Many women had great skills before marriage but now we see low self-esteem, low self-confidence because of isolation,” Rashid said. “The sewing circles will be led by people in our own community who speak the language and are from the culture.”

Capital Projects
(vote for 3—the winning projects will receive up to $1.5 million in funding)

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: “Down Payment” on Elevator at 7th Ave F/G Station
Location: 7th Avenue/9th St.
Cost: $250,000
Description: Allocate funds toward construction of an elevator to make the first accessible subway station in District 39.

“This is something that’s been asked for year after year after year, especially by disability advocates,” said Jennifer Vallone. “Council Member Lander hopes this down payment will put pressure on the MTA to work on it. Right now, there aren’t any elevators between Jay Street and Church Avenue. The 7th Ave station is right by Methodist Hospital and a senior center.”

Project: Prospect Park Sidewalk for Pedestrian Safety
Location: Litchfield Villa’s Parking Lot in Prospect Park
Cost: $500,000
Description: Build a sidewalk or protected path along the parking lot of Litchfield Villa to create a safe, accessible path for pedestrians to access the Picnic House and other parts of Prospect Park.

“Right now the easiest way to get into the park is by walking through the parking lot, which feels unsafe, but people have accepted that’s just how it is,” said Kathy Park Price, who has spent three summers walking her children through the lot on their way to summer camp. “There’s room for a sidewalk, it’s already clear of trees, and the Parks department agreed it’s a viable project.”

District 39 Participatory Budgeting Project Expo, April 2, 2019 (Photo: Megan Conn)

Project: M.S. 51: New All-Gender Bathrooms & Water Fountains
Location: 350 5th Avenue
Cost: $140,000
Description: Update unused bathroom to create a private space where LGBTQ students feel comfortable and install filtered water fountains.

“We want to renovate the bathroom to create a safe place for gender non-conforming and trans students, even if they aren’t out yet,” said Clio Wood, Co-President of GLAM, the school’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) organization. “It will be open to all students so it won’t be suspicious for anyone to use it. Legally we’re supposed to have bathrooms for LBGTQ students, it’s been mandatory since last January.”

Project: BNS/BCS: Bleachers for Student/Community Seating
Location: BNS (P.S. 146)/BCS (K448)
Cost: $300,000
Description: Replace broken gym bleachers at Brooklyn Secondary School for Collaborative Studies.

“It’s dangerous to open the bleachers – a teacher cut her hand,” said Abbie Yarish, a member of the 5th grade student government. “I’ve been at the school for six years and they’ve been broken longer than that. There’s 1,400 students in grades K-12 and the upper grades can’t host sports games because of the bleachers.”

Project: P.S. 130: New Flooring for Safer Environment
Location: P.S. 130 Lower School
Cost: $600,000
Description: Tile replacement for the hallways and rooms for the second through fifth floors, which have damaged tiles with holes and exposed flooring. This is hazardous for both staff, teachers and students, and staff members have seen rodent problems due to these broken floor tiles as well. The school is requesting that all these rooms are replaced with new tile floor.

Project: Reading Garden with WiFi for Borough Park Library
Location: Borough Park Library, 1265 43rd Street
Cost: $ 350,000
Description: Convert concrete yard into an outdoor reading area by adding cafe-style seating, benches, potted plants, and wifi.

“We want to transform the barren concrete perimeter yard into a reading garden,” said Jill Reinier. “The librarian put some old chairs outside and many low-income residents come sit there to get access to wifi if they don’t have it at home. Borough Park has one of the lowest rates of internet at home but the library is widely used.”

“The librarians have been bringing this idea for a few years, but because the library is right on the edge of the district, a lot of people perceive it as part of Borough Park and it falls through the cracks,” Reinier said. “The fact is it doesn’t have access to other funding resources, this is the funding that’s available for it.”

Project: Give 1000 Elementary School Kids at P.S. 58 a Decent Playground
Location: P.S. 58 The Carroll School
Cost: $500,000
Description: P.S. 58 is one of the last elementary schools in the district – if not the last—to have a plain, unshaded, tarmac for a playground. The playground is also extremely exposed to foot traffic on Smith Street leading to unauthorized interactions between passersby and students. There is a consensus within the school community that a privacy barrier should be installed.

The project would add more seating, shade, and natural/green elements to the space while preserving plenty of open play space. Specific features include 6 to 12 tree plantings, 2-6 benches for seating near the trees, upgraded fencing for privacy, and a barrier of plantings between the fencing and the play area as an additional buffer from the sidewalk.

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  1. For Capital you can only vote for 3 projects, not 5 as stated in the article (in previous years the numbers were different).

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