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Falls residents choose park improvements

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Wed, Sep 6th 2017 02:45 pm
Nearly 250 residents cast votes in first PB360 project
Voting for the City of Niagara Falls Department of Community Development's participatory budgeting initiative, dubbed "PB 360," came to a close on Aug. 31, and the results have now been tallied.
With 248 Niagara Falls residents voting, the ranking of projects is as follows:
The only requirement to vote was each person had to live in Niagara Falls. Residents were allowed to vote for up to three of the 10 proposed projects available.
The PB360 process empowered city residents to propose park improvement projects and vote directly on the allocation of $360,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to carry those projects out.
The idea phase of the initiative was carried out in July, when a series of public meetings led to dozens of ideas being proposed.
Direct voting took place throughout the month of August, at community events and at "pop-up" polling places in various city parks. City residents could also cast votes in the Community Development office each Thursday in the month of August.
"It was important to go to where people are," said Seth Piccirillo, the department's director. "It's not convenient for many people to visit a polling station during working hours, so we took a creative approach to maximizing public participation. By going to the people putting the parks to use, we think we have come up with a list of projects that will really serve the city."
The city will expend funds on the highest voted project and go down the list until all $360,000 is spent. According to current cost projections, the City of Niagara Falls Department of Community Development said it believes the first five projects will be achievable with the original $360,000.
Community development is seeking other funding sources and cost-saving measures to supplement CDBG funds so that more community-driven parks projects can be done.

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