Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association discusses 39th Ward’s participatory budget process; recommendations for infrastructure improvements can be submitted online through Nov. 18
by BRIAN NADIG
The Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association hopes its community will have one or more infrastructure projects on the 39th Ward’s participatory budget ballot in 2022.
The funds, which total $500,000, are allocated based on a ward-wide vote and can be used for a variety of proposals, including murals, pedestrian bump-outs for crosswalks and improvements to parks and other public facilities.
“It’s a great way to get people involved,” association president Joe DiCiaula said at the group’s Nov. 4 meeting. It was held at the Kolping Society, 5826 N. Elston Ave.
DiCiaula served on the ward’s 2021 participatory budget committee, a group of volunteers who reviewed the budget recommendations and helped decide which projects made the ballot. “It was a great process,” he said.
DiCiaula said that there were a couple of Gladstone Park area recommendations for the 2021 participatory budget but they did not make the ballot. One of the proposals called for flooding improvements at Indian Road Park, 6010 W. Matson Ave., but the Chicago Park District reportedly was already planning to address the problem, he said.
Each of the city’s 50 wards receives an annual allocation of $1.5 million in discretionary funds for side-street resurfacing and other local infrastructure improvements. The 39th Ward is one of a handful of wards which hold a community vote on how to spend a portion of those funds, most of which typically go toward side-street resurfacing.
Budget recommendations can be submitted online through Thursday, Nov. 18, at www.aldermannugent.com. In addition, those interested in serving on the committee can sign up on the website.
“We are looking for recommendations for all parts of the ward,” Nugent’s chief of staff Erika Wozniak said. “(The recommendations are) all up on our website. It’s all public.”
39th Ward residents age 14 and older are allowed to vote. The top vote-getting projects are funded until all of the $500,000 is allocated, Wozniak said.
There were 22 proposals on the 2021 ballot, and the projects were broken down into three categories: community and culture, parks and recreation, and safety and environment. Some of the winners were baseball diamond improvements at Sauganash Park ($140,000), streetscape improvements to West Devon Avenue in Downtown Edgebrook ($25,000) and “Little Gompers” path improvements ($110,000).
Most of Gladstone Park is located in the 45th Ward (south of West Peterson Avenue), which does not hold a participatory budget vote. Alderman James Gardiner (45th) has said that he allocates as much of his ward’s funds as possible to street improvements due to what he has described as years of neglect.
Also at the association’s meeting, it was reported that Gardiner will be meeting with the association’s board to discuss maintenance of the landscaped pedestrian bump-outs and refuge islands on Milwaukee Avenue. Association members have been documenting the needs of these areas and maintaining some of them.
It also was announced that a resident has installed a “Treasure Box”at 5720 N. Mason Ave. The locker is stored with toiletries and cleaning supplies, including toilet paper and soap.
“People can just come (and) take what they need,” DiCiaula said, adding that items also can be donated. Several of these boxes are located on the Northwest Side.
The meeting also included a presentation by Amy Bobel of Peoples Gas. She said that residents can request a free energy assessment of their home by calling 855-849-8928.
More information about the association, including membership dues, is available at www.gpnachicago.com.