In a process called participatory budgeting, community members can now vote on how Lexington should spend $500,000 allocated for resident-proposed projects that benefit the public.
After the Select Board finalized a list of 13 voting options last week from over 130 original resident submissions, Lexington launched voting for participatory budgeting on Thursday afternoon. The projects will be funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding the Select Board set aside for this purpose last year.
This is Lexington’s first-ever participatory budgeting cycle, but the collaborative civic process was established in Brazil more than 30 years ago and several communities worldwide have since adopted the practice. Cambridge, for instance, has engaged in participatory budgeting for several years.
Proposed projects include outdoor seating, a dog park, a community orchard, traffic safety lights and bus shelters. Individual project costs range from $10,000 to $265,000 and amount to a total cost of nearly $1.3 million. The projects are one-time expenditures, and are separate from the Town’s annual operating and capital budgets.
Voting takes place online on a platform called Balancing Act, and residents of all ages – including those under 18 – are welcome to vote. Community members can vote for as many projects as they would like as long as the total cumulative cost does not exceed $500,000, but residents should only cast votes once. Each project includes a brief description and an opportunity for residents to leave a comment.
Any community member without access to a computer or internet can vote at Cary Library. Voting will remain open until April 7.
The 13 project options are:
- Increased shaded area at the Town’s aquatics facility – $265,000
- Clarke Middle School smart traffic light – $30,000
- Benches and picnic tables at parks and open spaces – $70,000
- Sutherland Park seating improvement – $12,000
- No-touch fixtures at public buildings – $177,500
- Flashing lights at crosswalks and bike path crossings – $250,000
- Improvements to conservation land – $100,000
- Additional bike parking – $10,000
- Lexington Community Orchard – $60,000
- Installation of bus shelter(s) – $100,000
- Dog Park – $85,000
- Crosswalks for ACROSS Lexington routes N & P – $70,000
- Inclusive multi-generational space upgrades – $50,000
You can vote on your preferred projects here.