120115 participatory budgetingVoting on the city’s second participatory budgeting process runs from Dec. 5-12, with residents age 12 and older invited to help decide how to spend $600,000 of the city’s capital budget.

Last year, the inaugural participatory budgeting process voted in a total $527,400 in free Wi-Fi in six outdoor spaces; a 24-hour access public toilet near Central Square; computer equipment for the Community Learning Center on Western Avenue; up to 350 bilingual books for children learning English; bike repair stations with tools and bike pumps to be installed around the city; and 100 new trees with educational signs.

Those were winnowed down to 20 from more than 380 submitted ideas and ultimately decided by some 2,700 residents voters.

This year community members submitted 540 ideas in August, which were narrowed by volunteer budget delegates to the current 23 ideas – with at least four concepts returning from last year, including neighborhood book exchanges, a “Garden of Peace,” bus shelter monitors with real-time information; and more Wi-Fi in public spaces, this time complemented by benches that can recharge electronic devices.

A Vote Kickoff is to take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday near the food court at the CambridgeSide Galleria mall, 100 CambridgeSide Place, East Cambridge. Voters will have a chance to see project displays and talk with budget delegates. Other voting locations include City Hall, libraries, senior centers, youth centers, the Community Art Center at 119 Windsor St. and many Cambridge Housing Authority residences. Special voting events will be Dec. 5-12. Paper ballots at the events will be available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Spanish.

Residents can also vote online; the city’s participatory budgeting site is here. Online voting will be authenticated by text message, meaning voters will enter their cellphone number online and get a code via text that must be entered online for one-time access to the ballot. If residents wish to vote online but do not have a cellphone, they will be prompted to email or call the city’s Budget Office for a code. The online ballot will be available in English and Spanish.

For information, visit the website; call the city’s budget office at (617) 349-4270; or email questions to pb@cambridgema.gov.


This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.

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