Voting for 45th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting Starts April 29; playlots, artificial turf at Beaubien are amoung proposals


By BRIAN NADIG

Voting begins Monday, April 29, on the selection of which infrastructure improvements will be funded as part of the participatory budgeting process in the 45th Ward.

Community gardens, a new playground, brighter street lights, viaduct improvements and an artificial turf field at Beaubien School are among the projects which ward residents age 16 and older will be selecting from. Alderman John Arena is one of four Chicago aldermen who are holding a community vote to decide how most of the ward’s $1.32 million in discretionary funds should be spent.

Residents age 16 and older and who either live within the existing ward boundaries or the new boundaries that fully take effect in 2015 are allowed to vote. Those voting will be asked to show a driver’s license, utility bill or some other form identification showing their address before they are allowed to vote.

Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that residents will be allowed to select up to six of the 15 funding proposals. Arena’s plans to spend $1 million of the ward’s discretionary funds, which are also commonly referred to aldermanic “menu money,” while the remaining dollars will be reserved for priority projects, cost overruns and emergencies.

Also on the ballot, residents will be asked what percentage of the $1 million should be spent on street resurfacing in the ward. Residents will not be selecting specific streets and blocks, as Arena’s staff and the city Department of Transportation will be making that determination based on which side streets have the greatest need for improvements.

Voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, April 29 to May 3, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 4, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5. All voting will take place at the ward office, 4754 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Last fall Arena held a series of community workshops in which residents and merchants suggested improvement projects, and Arena established committees to research the ideas and to help determine a list of finalists for the ballot. Arena recently held three expos that included displays on the projects.

Owen said that the ballot was be finalized until a week before the voting starts in part because other funding sources were being pursued for some proposals. One of the proposals calls for fencing and lighting improvements to the pedestrian bridge over the Kennedy Expressway near Austin Avenue, but the transportation department recently improved the lights over the bridge, while Metra installed some brighter lighting at the Gladstone Park Metra Station, which connects to the bridge, Owen said. The ballot includes a $25,000 request for wrought-iron fencing for a portion of the bridge.

In addition, a decision was made late last week not to place on the ballot a proposal for a new playlot at Roberts Square Park, 5200 W. Argyle St., estimated to cost $250,000. Arena’s staff informed the park’s advisory council that discretionary funds would not be available for the entire cost of the project.

The council decided to drop its proposal and purse a private grant to pay for the full amount. Typically the park district requires that communities raise about one third of the cost of a new playlot.
Also, plans for several community murals will not be on the ballot because the city is formulating new rules which govern maintenance of murals and require insurance and artist waivers, Brugh said. A plan for landscaping and safety improvements for the traffic island at Milwaukee and Elston avenues also was dropped.

Meanwhile, the ballot will include a $350,000 request for a new playground at Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield Ave. Additional funds for the project are being raised by the community, Brugh said.

Other projects on the ballot include the installation of buffer-protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue between Addison Street and Lawrence Avenue for $125,000 and on Lawrence between Cicero Avenue and Long Avenue for $70,000. A $10,000 allocation also is being sought for three on-street corrals for bike parking and $28,745 for solar compacting garbage and recycling bins at five locations, including the pool entrance at Jefferson Park, 4822 N. Long Ave.

Additional requests call for $120,000 for the power washing and painting of viaducts at 5700 W. Foster Ave., 5120 N. Central Ave., 4650 W. Montrose Ave., 4810 W. Wilson Ave. and 4200 W. Irving Park Road, and for $23,000 for new lighting at the viaduct on Milwaukee Avenue over the Kennedy Expressway. An allocation of $41,000 also is being sought for the painting of lampposts on Milwaukee between Foster Avenue and Peterson Avenue.

Other funding requests include $30,000 for decorative community identifiers in the Independence Park neighborhood, $5,000 for the building of a shed at the Olive’s Neighborhood Garden at Ainslie Street and Laramie Avenue and $2,500 for materials to build garden beds at a garden that would be operated by Saint John’s Lutheran Church and Our Lady of Victory Church.

Also, $59,210 is being sought for the installation of an artificial turf at Beaubien School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave., which lacks a playlot and a grass field, and $125,000 for the installation of a stoplight and crosswalk in front of the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. A $54,000 request for three informational kiosks, which will highlight cultural attractions in the ward, also will be on the ballot.


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