UES votes for school improvements

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Kallos announces District 5 participatory budget winners


  • A proposal to fund the renovation of a playground shared by P.S. 198 and P.S. 77 was one of two winners in District 5’s participatory budget voting. Photo: Michael Garofalo

The Upper East Side has spoken: residents voted to allocate $1 million to fund two capital projects at local public schools as part of District 5’s participatory budgeting process, Council Member Ben Kallos announced last week.

The winning proposals of the district’s annual participatory budget vote, in which residents choose capital projects to receive taxpayer dollars, are a new science classroom at P.S. 183 and a playground renovation at P.S. 198/77.

P.S. 183 Robert Louis Stevenson on East 66th Street will receive $600,000 for a science and technology laboratory that will include a hydroponic planting system. “It’s for water hookups so that they can do hydroponics, and it’s part of a larger scale idea of expanding the classroom onto yet another roof,” Kallos told Our Town.

The playground for P.S. 198 and P.S. 77, which share the Isador and Ida Straus School building at Third Avenue and 95th Street, is in for a makeover that will include new equipment and surfacing, as well as the removal of a diseased tree.

The playground renovation will cost an estimated $500,000, which, along with the $600,000 for P.S. 183’s science classroom, puts the two projects slightly over the $1 million allocated to the participatory budget from the district’s roughly $5 million in discretionary funds. Kallos said he will allocate the remaining $100,000 from the discretionary budget to ensure both projects are funded.

More than 2,400 residents voted this year, the initiative’s largest turnout to date. Kallos credited digital voting for the increased engagement — nearly 80 percent of votes were cast online. “I’m glad that residents are participating,” Kallos said. “And I’m really hoping that with how easy digital voting is that we finally get to having the over 100,000 people in the neighborhood voting in participatory budgeting.”

All District 5 residents over the age of 14 were eligible, and could vote for up to five projects on the ballot. The winning proposals beat out nine other ideas submitted by community members, including a plan to build irrigation for trees and vegetation on the East River Greenway and funding for new security cameras in the Holmes Towers.

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