BY ANGELA MATUA
Councilman Donovan Richards announced last week the winners of the participatory budget process for District 31.
More than 2,000 Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens residents voted in this year’s budget process and found out exactly where their tax dollars would be going on Wednesday, May 13.
Richards, along with Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, tweaked the process by launching early voting, lowering the voting age to 14 and introducing the first electronic ballots in the history of participatory budgeting in New York City.
The most votes went to Springfield Gardens Education Complex (1,614 votes) to provide $525,000 for a sound and projection system to be installed in the auditorium.
Lilly Lucas, president of Excelsior Preparatory High school, which is housed inside the complex, said the upgrades are a blessing. Lucas, who graduated in the ’60s from the high school, previously named Springfield Gardens High School, said nothing in the auditorium had been upgraded since she was a student.
“I’ll put it to you this way: those curtains that are in the auditorium are the same curtains that I had when I was a student here,” Lucas said. “We have to do a lot of compromising when we have events, which are many since there are four schools here. It’s such a wonderful blessing.”
Lucas said the process of participatory budgeting was exciting this year because many children who attend one of the four schools were eligible to vote.
The students of I.S. 231 will hone their musical abilities with a new $300,000 music studio after 1,031 residents voted for the project.
The last project to be funded with 945 votes was the installation of reading and chess areas in Brookville Park in Rosedale and Springfield Park in Springfield Gardens.
“I want to thank everyone involved in making this year such a success, especially the students and faculty of our local schools,” Richards said. “I strongly believe that as we continue to bring this more direct form of democracy to our neighborhoods. It is crucial we engage our youth in the political process and prepare them to be the future leaders our city needs and deserves.”