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Falls residents to decide on use of public funds for parks improvements

Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 04:20 pm
Niagara Falls Community Development has kicked off the first participatory budgeting process in the city's history.
PB 360, an abbreviated name for the new initiative, will host its first public brainstorming session from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 24, in Hyde Park -- next to the Sal Maglie Stadium parking lot.
Seth Piccirillo, director of Niagara Falls Community Development, reported the participatory budgeting exercise is a democratic decision-making process of direct citizen engagement to manage public money.
In other words, Falls residents will have the opportunity to decide how to use $360,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development geared to city parks improvements.
"While we are always committed to seeking as much public input as possible before expending public dollars, this new process will give citizens the last word on where funds are spent," Piccirillo said. "We see participatory budgeting as a natural evolution of that commitment. PB 360 will give residents a more hands-on relationship with their city government. "
A second public meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, at the Carnegie Building, 1022 Main St.
From both sessions, resident input will be turned into ballot items and presented for voting throughout the month of August. A full list of ballot items, voting booth locations and dates will be released in late July.
PB 360 is a relatively new, engaging process involving the community, with only one other city, Oakland, having utilized participatory budgeting.
Through the two public brainstorming sessions in the month of June, the City of Niagara Falls will consider suggestions from its residents. In July, the city will work on developing a spending plan, derived from the proposed ideas.
Falls residents will have further opportunity to comment on the plan at various public events in August.
The proposals that receive the highest number of votes will be funded with $360,000, and then put into action.
"We are always open to new ideas that give people a better connection to their community," Piccirillo said.
Niagara Falls residents are encouraged to attend these sessions to provide ideas and input on what parks improvements they would like to see. Voting will take place at various public events and locations in the city throughout August.
Interested participants are encouraged to review the city's 2013 citywide parks master plan, "City in a Park," which was published in 2013 using residents' input from community meetings
The plan, as well as other information, can be found online at www.nf-cd.org/pb360.

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