Tell your councilwoman how to spend city dollars

Councilwoman Margaret Chin is — for the first time — participating in participatory budgeting (say that five times fast), where ordinary citizens like you and me can propose projects in the district. I’ve observed this before in a couple Bronx districts; it’s a TON of work for the staff of the council offices, which is why, I assume, Chin avoided it till now. But in the years since they started it, they have made it a lot more user friendly. Here’s how it works:

> Go to the citywide site — click here to this map.

> Set a pin by clicking “submit an idea,” then slide it around to your location.

> Describe your project and what it will do for the neighborhood. (For example, I just set a pin for a hedge maze in the southwest corner of Washington Market Park, a project that Richie Haughland, the park’s longtime gardener, came up with and that the Friends has been talking about for a couple years.) You have to include your name; your email will be recorded for staff use.

After you submit your idea on this Idea Collection Map, it will be given to community volunteers, called budget delegates, who will turn the ideas into real proposals. The proposals will then be run by the city agencies and if they pass muster, will be added to a ballot. Then there will be a community-wide vote in the spring. You see what I am talking about with the work… More info here if you need it.

Add some ideas! There’s $1 million to spend.



  1. Maybe I should propose the world’s tallest, multibillion dollar prison to built in the middle of Chinatown…that’s seems like a brilliant idea. Two Bridges three towers of apartments and low income housing is bad, but somehow the prison monolith is good?
    Margaret Chin does not care about her neighborhood nor constituents.

    • Maybe there’s a way to de-propose an idea, like the prison monolith?

      • All suggestions welcome! I have called, emailed and spoken to reporters… No one seems to think this is a good idea, yet it continues…

        • I’ve been doing the same. And attending the hearings too, where the outrage is clearly widespread within the community especially… But these just seem to be ‘venting’ sessions and the opinions of the community are just ignored in the end.

          The whole process seems rushed without real consideration of the effects. Not to mention there is a lot of questioning whether this very expensive project will correct the problems of Rikers, or just relocate those same problems without significant improvement.

          Maybe the issues need to be separated: criminal justice system reform (i.e. what is considered “criminal”, the degrees and severity of punishments, issues of bias, etc.); Rikers-specific reforms; and the question of whether and how to locate or expand the “borough” prisons/jails. It seems like these are being treated as if they are all the same issue, but the concern is that the new and expanded “borough” jails may do little to reform the system or fix the Rikers problems. It’s a lot of money ($5-7 billion is the current estimate), a long disruptive construction process, etc., and the question is whether this is the best use of so much money and effort. to reform the system.

          There’s a recent article in the Times, which oddly enough doesn’t even mention the Chinatown opposition to the plan: