Results tallied for vote on participatory budget
by BRIAN NADIG
Side street resurfacing, tree plantings, an Independence Park playground and pigeon abatement were the leading vote getters in Alderman John Arena’s 45th Ward participatory budget vote that took place May 5 to May 10.
Arena is one of a four aldermen who use a community vote to let residents decide how to spend most of the ward’s annual allotment of $1.32 million for discretionary infrastructure improvements, with voters deciding on the allocation of $1 million of that total. The number of residents who voted this year declined to 516 from 635 in 2013.
Voters decided to allocate $551,000 toward residential street resurfacing. The streets being considered for resurfacing include the 4900 to 5100 blocks of West Belle Plaine Avenue, the 5000 block of North Melvina Avenue, the 5200 block of West Carmen Avenue, the 4500 block of North Lavergne Avenue, the 5200 block of North Mason Avenue and the 6100 block of North Avondale Avenue.
A proposal to plant 450 trees plantings at a cost of $240,750 received 256 votes, installing a new playground at Independence Park at a cost of $100,000 got 225 votes, and pigeon abatement at 10 viaducts at a cost of $150,000 got 159 votes. The playground project will require additional funding from other sources, including the Chicago Park District.
The other projects on the ballot received between 50 and 147 votes and are not expected to receive discretionary funds this year. Other funding sources may be identified to help pay for some of those improvements, according to Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.
The projects which did not receive enough votes were for buffered bike lanes on Lawrence Avenue, improved viaduct lighting in the Old Irving Park area, resurfaced tennis courts at Wilson Park, on-street bike corrals in the Six Corners shopping district, banner holders for lamp posts in the Jefferson Park commercial area and fencing improvements at the pedestrian bridge leading from the Kennedy Expressway to the Gladstone Park Metra station.
The minimum voting age was reduced from 16 to 14 this year, and mobile voting locations, including one at Independence Park, were made available. Brugh said that a estimated 10 to 20 people age 18 or younger voted this year.