Cambridge is gearing up to select its Participatory Budget projects for FY19, and this time the city has $800,000 to play with. Officials narrowed a record-breaking 608 ideas down to 20 that community members can vote on from Dec. 2-8.
Participatory Budget projects are one-time capital projects—typically related to infrastructure—that community members select to improve the city. Examples of past projects include bilingual books to help children learn English, solar panels for the library, and stations to fill up water bottles.
Every Cambridge resident—including university students and non-citizens—who is at least 12 years old has the chance to vote on how to allocate the funds. People can vote for up to five projects online or at various city events during the voting period.
The Participatory Budget outreach committee names five goals for the program: diverse civic engagement, social and community impact, sustainable public good, accessible civic engagement, and civic-mindedness.
The 20 finalists for this year’s Participatory Budgeting range in price and location. A set of 12 benches sprinkled along Mass. Ave. and Broadway would cost $25,000, while resource kits for homeless individuals throughout the city would clock in at $72,500.
City of Cambridge Budget Analyst Michelle Monsegur told Scout over the summer that one of her favorite suggestions was a “Jade Chain,” moss walls with benches that clean as much air as 275 trees do. The four moss walls would cost $100,000 and be located in Harvard, Porter, and Inman Squares and on Binney Street.
“I just really like that idea; I think it’s really creative and cool,” she says.
Other ideas range from public WiFi in Inman Square and Russell Field ($20,000) to new musical instruments for Cambridge Rindge and Latin School ($150,000). A full list of the 20 finalists is available online.