Five assemblies for budget process set
by BRIAN NADIG
The first of five neighborhood assemblies for the 45th Ward participatory budget process will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
The other assemblies will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Hitch School, 5625 N. McVicker Ave., from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in the Saint Constance Parish Hall, 5843 W. Strong St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Lydia Home, 4839 W. Irving Park Road, and from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov., 7, at Disney High School/Marshall School, 3900 N. Lawndale Ave.
For the second consecutive year, Alderman John Arena will spend $1 million of the ward’s $1.3 million in discretionary funds based on a community vote that will be held in the spring. The neighborhood assemblies are intended to explain the process to residents and to gather suggestions for which initiatives should be placed on the ballot.
Arena is one of four city aldermen who use participatory budgeting. Discretionary funds, which also are commonly referred to as "aldermanic menu" money, must be used for infrastructure improvements. The ward’s discretionary projects this year included street resurfacing, an artificial-turf athletic field at Beaubien School and new lighting at several viaducts.
Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that the minimum voting age for the budgeting process is being lowered from 16 to 14 and that area high schools are being notified of the change.
Last year 634 residents voted to allocate 54 percent of the $1 million to street resurfacing. Volunteers are being sought to help create a priority list of streets that require resurfacing street in 2014, Brugh said.
Also in the ward, Arena and the city Department of Water Management will hold a "Chicago Basement Flooding Partnership" meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Saint Constance. The program calls for the appointment of block captains who will be asked to go door-to-door in their neighborhood and inform residents about flood control measures they can take, such as using rain barrels and disconnecting downspouts.