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A different way to vote: Locals pick winning projects totalling $2.4 million

With a series of community projects vying for a slice of the budget, $2.4 million of city funding is on the plate for Durham locals. Much like a diner selecting the most delicious dishes from a buffet, residents have the opportunity to pick the community projects they find most appealing. The participatory budget process introduces a curated menu of ten projects, each with its own importance to the city. 

The voting process, available both on paper and online, began on Thursday, Sept. 21, and ends on Tuesday, Oct. 31. All city residents can take part, including students 13 years or older. Andrew Holland, the assistant director with the city’s Budget and Management Services Department, said residents are encouraged to select the projects they feel most deserve support. 

“Having residents vote for what they believe the city should fund in their communities gives them a real voice in their local government decision-making process on how their tax dollars are put back into their communities,” Holland said. 

The menu of community projects prioritizes equity, Holland said, and ranges from playground improvements to safety measures.  

Project Proposals: 

  • Pedestrian safety on East Trinity Avenue —$990,000. Safety measures such as crosswalks, signage, and sidewalks.
  • Outdoor lighting — $888,000. Outdoor lighting for improved safety and extended hours at Morreene Road Park, Holton Career and Resource Center, and Edison Johnson Recreation Center parking lot.
  • Playground improvements — $762,000. A trio of shade structures and two new playgrounds at Bay-Hargrove Park, Carroll Street Park, and Southern Boundaries Park.
  • Skate park at Duke Park — $347,000. A new skate park with movable equipment.
  • Teen equipment at recreation centers —$85,000. Improved equipment (such as computers and games) at the Durham Teen Center at Lyon Park, Holton Career and Resource Center, Walltown Recreation Center, W.D. Hill Recreation Center, and Weaver Street Recreation Center.
  • Crosswalks with murals — $352,000. New crosswalks spotlighting public art at numerous intersections. 
  • Bathroom at Cook Road Park — $330,000. Construction of a new bathroom facility. 
  • Sustainable improvements to parks — $110,000 Installation of new water bottle filling stations, bike repair stations, and solar power charging stations for improved sustainability at various local parks.
  • Stagville monument — $275,000. Creation of an artistic and educational monument honoring the formerly enslaved people of the Stagville plantation.
  • Security Measures for Durham Housing Authority Properties — $110,000. Safety improvements including cameras, deadbolt locks, and improved lighting at the Cornwallis Road Community and  Preiss-Steele Place.

The proposals are collected from the one-time project ideas residents submitted in late 2022, a list that was winnowed to 10 by city staff together with a volunteer steering committee.

To take part, participants examine the list of potential projects and rank at least five of the projects in order of preference. For instance, a participant who selects all 10 projects is to rank them from one to 10. Once residents have chosen and ranked their preferred projects, City Council will approve a final list of projects totalling $2.4 million. The winning proposals will be implemented this coming winter.  

In 2019, the first cycle of participatory budgeting funded 18 Durham projects, such as playgrounds, public art, and bus shelters. A second cycle saw the approval of $1 million for 22 organizations serving residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and organizations addressing racial and economic disparities.  

More information is available on the program’s website

The future is in your hands, Durham. Bon appétit! 

Above: Rendering of proposed crosswalk courtesy of PBDurham.org.

Jon Kuperschmid