The fourth Participatory Budgeting Vote will take place from December 2-8, 2017. Mark your calendars now!
Cambridge residents will be able to vote online on this website or in person at multiple events around town during Vote Week. This process is open to all Cambridge residents who are at least 12 years old, including non-US citizens and university students. Make your voice heard!
Many thanks to the Budget Delegates who worked hard to research all 608 ideas that were submitted by community members during the summer. They developed the following 20 final proposals for the ballot. Sign up for email updates so you'll be notified when voting opens on December 2!
2017 PB Ballot Proposals
1. Drinking Water Across More Parks ($100,000)
Parks and playgrounds without fountains
Install new water fountain/bottle-fillers at up to 10 parks that lack drinking water fixtures. This will ensure that more residents can enjoy free, clean, drinking water at their local park, no matter which neighborhood they call home.
2. Benches for a Walkable City ($25,000)
North Mass. Ave. and Broadway
Install 12 benches along key corridors in Cambridge so that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy benches for resting, talking, tinkering with electronic devices, people watching, and being outdoors.
3. Enhancements to the Central Square Library ($72,500)
Central Square Branch Library
Update the Central Square Library and expand the variety of items for loan. Proposed enhancements are new furniture, a laptop kiosk, and fun, non-traditional items for loan. These improvements would benefit the neighborhood and community.
4. Critical Resource Kits for the Homeless ($50,000)
Deliver resource kits to homeless residents through established programs. These kits will provide supplies such as socks, feminine hygiene products, toiletries, first aid kits, and other items to Cambridge’s most vulnerable population.
5. New Musical Instruments for CRLS ($200,000)
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
New music instruments for CRLS would encourage and support arts education for Cambridge students. Newer equipment at the high school would not only benefit high school students but middle school students as well.
6. Upgrade the Gately Youth Center ($100,000)
Gately Youth Center
The Gately Youth Center is in need of an upgrade. Updating the furniture and music studio as well as renovating the kitchen would bring more youth and foster stronger community at the center.
7. Public WiFi for Inman Square and Russell Field ($20,000)
Inman Square and Russell Field
WiFi is essential to everyday life for many people. Installing access points to offer free WiFi in the public spaces surrounding Inman Square and Russell Field would benefit many Cambridge residents.
8. Urban Bicycle Wash Stations ($20,000)
2 locations, to be determined
Bicycle owners need to clean and care for their bikes, ideally monthly. But for apartment dwellers, this is really hard! These centrally located bicycle wash stations would allow bicycle owners to wash off dirt, grime, and salt from their bikes.
9. Sheltered Bike Parking at the Main Library ($90,000)
At the Library entrance on Broadway
The Main Library needs more bicycle parking. A glass pavilion, protecting bikes from the weather, landscaped with paths and trees, will be an attractive and functional addition to the library grounds.
10. Flashing Crosswalks for Safer Streets ($176,000)
10 locations citywide
This project would fund rapid flashing beacons at 10 high pedestrian risk crosswalks. These beacons increase the visibility of pedestrians, especially at night. They can alert drivers to crossing pedestrians, thereby preventing crashes.
11. Digital Bike Counters with Open Data ($90,000)
3 locations, to be determined
What’s the impact of the new bike lanes in Cambridge? Let’s measure it! Three new bicycle counters will provide accurate counts of people passing on bicycle via in-ground loop detectors and digitally display how many people use bike lanes.
12. Bicycle Safety for Cambridge Youth ($95,000)
Access to bicycle safety equipment for youth will enable more people to enjoy this healthy activity. It will also relieve some of the stress on public transportation, while decreasing the city’s carbon and toxic gas emissions.
13. Make Our Playgrounds Fun for All Ages & Abilities ($200,000)
4 renovations citywide
Add 4 inclusive elements to playgrounds as they are renovated, allowing people of all ages and abilities to interact with and enjoy parks and recreation areas and to encourage expanded funding of these elements in the future.
14. Making Danehy Friendlier and Healthier ($140,000)
Danehy’s signage can be confusing. Fitness stations are hard to find and people work out on benches. The City will improve fitness options for adults, add seating in the dog park, and revamp signage to show everybody what Danehy has to offer.
15. Murals to Inspire Cambridge Youth ($75,000)
2-3 locations citywide
While Cambridge is enriched by individuals studying or working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) fields, there are many young people who do not have role models who look, talk, or live like them.
16. Interactive Conversation Benches ($60,000)
4 locations citywide
The benches will use recordings designed to facilitate interpersonal interaction between people who would not normally interact. The structures will include instructions and conversation prompts to encourage residents to share perspectives.
17. Drive on Superpower: Electric Vehicle Charging ($165,000)
6 public parking lots
Dreaming of a Tesla but don’t know where to charge it? Twelve fast-charging electric vehicle ports throughout the City’s municipal lots will encourage environmentally friendly driving habits!
18. Jade Chain: Living Moss Walls to Combat Pollution ($100,000)
Porter, Inman & Harvard Squares, Binney Street
Four moss walls will bring life to underplanted areas of Cambridge! These walls can be customized with benches or solar charging stations, harnessing the low-maintenance, high-impact qualities of moss to clean our air and beautify our squares.
19. 100 Trees for a Cleaner, Greener Cambridge ($141,000)
Barren sidewalks in East & North Cambridge
Let’s green our streets by planting 100 trees in neighborhoods lacking foliage! From cooling heat islands to cleaning our air, these trees will be a long-term investment in making our city a healthier, happier place.
20. Smarter Cleanup for a Smart City ($80,000)
9 distinct locations with high foot traffic
A cleaner, more connected Cambridge is here, by way of hands-free, solar-powered BigBelly bins. The new, foot-pedal operated trash and recycling compactors can provide free local WiFi, cut carbon emissions, and conserve City resources.
What is PB all about?
Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The City hopes that PB will help directly involve residents in the budgeting and City-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the City’s Capital Plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents.
The fourth Participatory Budgeting (PB) cycle in Cambridge will run from May-December 2017. This time, the City will set aside $800,000 of the FY19 Budget for one-time capital projects to improve the community. Winning projects from past PB cycles include a public toilet in Central Square, solar panels for the Main Library roof, bike repair stations, a freezer van for prepared food rescue, water bottle fill stations, bilingual books for children learning English, and many others.
After community members brainstorm project ideas in June and July, volunteer Budget Delegates will research and develop those ideas into formal project proposals from August through November. Proposals that are vetted by City staff and approved by the City Manager will appear on a PB ballot in December for a public vote. Winning projects will be included in the FY19 Capital Budget for adoption.
Check out the map of past winning PB projects
Click here to see a Google map that displays all of the winning projects from PB1 and PB2. Projects with blue icons have been completed, while projects with grey icons have not yet been completed. Some projects will be implemented at multiple locations throughout Cambridge; in these cases, locations on the map are approximate or represent a general area.
You can learn more about winning projects from past cycles by exploring our PB Cycles tab.