A little more than 100 people took part in the 5th Ward’s first Participatory Budgeting election, but that is more than in the past--since expenditure of the ward’s capital improvement budget has been at the alderman’s sole discretion. Fifth Ward Chief of Staff Kimberly Webb said she is pleased with the results and everyone’s enthusiasm.
“We learned a lot about what kinds of projects are important to 5th Ward residents,” explained Webb. “The 5th Ward staff often thinks in terms of safety and infrastructure improvements, but the project that got the most votes was an urban garden at 71st Street.”
This is the first year 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston has taken part in the Participatory Budgeting process. After seeing how successfully it worked for 49th Ward residents, she was the second alderman to sign on to the process to allow constituents to decide how to spend up to $1 million of the ward’s annual improvement allocation dollars.
In addition to the urban garden, the next projects to receive the most votes were improved street lighting in South Shore and Grand Crossing, and improved lighting for Metra viaducts in Hyde Park and South Shore. The fourth highest vote getter was a mural at 67th and Dorchester Streets.
Webb said the alderman’s office would work on implementing the top three projects first. If there is enough money left, the alderman will begin work on the mural.
“Everyone was so enthusiastic. Obviously, there was a need for this level of community involvement and transparency,” shared Webb. “As word spreads, we look forward to more people taking part in next year’s Participatory Budgeting process.”
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