PB Cycle 1 (pilot)

Many thanks to the PB Cambridge Steering Committee, Budget Delegates, Participatory Budgeting Project staff, City staff, the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make the City's first PB initiative a success!


Status of Winning PB1 Projects

The $528,000 in FY16 capital funds for the six winning projects from the first PB cycle became available on July 1, 2015.  As of January 2018, all six winning projects were completed.

 A few notes on some of the projects:

  • New trees: For a list of the 100 tree locations, please click here.
  • Bilingual books: The Public Health Department's Agenda for Children Literacy Initiative has been circulating the bilingual books to families in Cambridge. The first batch of books arrived in November 2015 and the second/final batch arrived in May 2016. Books are available in English/Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Nepali, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
  • Public toilet: The Central Square public toilet is located on Western Avenue, just past the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue.
  • Bike repair stations: Community Development (CDD) installed the 8 bike repair stations at Alewife Linear Park (Russell Field), Central Square (near the post office), Danehy Park, Inman Square, Harvard Square (Gen. MacArthur Square), North Point (Education Circle), Porter Square shopping center, and Riverside City Park. Click here to see a map of all 8 PB bike repair stations.
  • Outdoor WiFi: Outdoor WiFi units were installed at the Cambridge Water Department in Fresh Pond, Fresh Pond Golf Course, and the Moore, Gately, Frisoli, and Moses Youth Centers.

 PB Cycle 1 Timeline

  • Planning, recruitment of STEERING COMMITTEE (October-November 2014)
  • Community members brainstorm and submit IDEAS (December 2014)
  • Volunteer Budget Delegates turn ideas into concrete project PROPOSALS (January-March 2015)
  • City staff vet proposals for FEASIBILITY and COST (March 2015)
  • Residents VOTE on which projects they’d like the City to fund (March 22-28, 2015)
  • RESULTS are announced and winning projects are included in the City’s FY16 Capital Budget (April 2015)
  • The City's first PB process is EVALUATED (May-June 2015)
  • Projects are IMPLEMENTED (July 2015 onward)


Click here to read the rulebook from the first PB process.

Idea Collection

To read about all 380 ideas that were submitted during the first cycle, please visit the City of Cambridge's open data portal here.


Proposal Development

From January-March, 40+ Budget Delegates worked in 4 committees to research, assess, prioritize, and develop the 380 submitted ideas into the following 20 final project proposals, which appeared on the ballot in March 2015.

  1. Healthy trees for a healthy Cambridge ($119,400)
  2. Laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  3. Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  4. Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  5. 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  6. Free public WiFi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)
  7. Mural project at Russell Field ($22,000)
  8. Furniture for the O'Connell Library ($36,000)
  9. Little free libraries (book exchanges) ($13,000)
  10. Renovation of bus shelter at Comeau Field & Rindge Avenue ($75,000)
  11. Wayfinding banners for neighborhood & commercial identity ($15,600)
  12. Traffic garden ($200,000)
  13. Bus shelter monitors with real time arrival ($30,000)
  14. Materials for planting by residents on public land ($40,000)
  15. Cambridge Garden of Peace ($340,000)
  16. North Cambridge community garden ($240,000)
  17. Outdoor bodyweight fitness equipment in Danehy Park ($65,000)
  18. Raymond Park community garden improvements ($20,000)
  19. Dog Park at Gore Street Park ($250,000)
  20. Amphitheater in Danehy Park ($350,000)

To read about each of them in greater detail, please click here

Vote & Results

To view an English version of the paper ballot, click here.


From March 22-28, 2015, 2,727 Cambridge residents age 12 and older - regardless of immigration status - voted for up to 5 of their favorite PB projects on the ballot. The following 6 projects won a total of $528,000 in funding:

  • Healthy trees for a healthy Cambridge ($120,000)
  • Laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  • Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  • Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  • 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  • Free public WiFi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)


The full vote totals are as follows: 

  Project Cost Votes Cumulative Cost
1. 100 New Trees $119,400 1,441 $119,400
2. CLC Computers $27,000 1,110 $146,400
3. Bilingual Books $7,000 970 $153,500
4. Central Square Toilet $320,000 945 $473,400
5. Bike Repair Stations $12,000 917 $485,400
6. Free Outdoor Wi-Fi $42,000 875 $527,400
7. Danehy Amphitheater $350,000 786  
8. Bus Shelter Real-Time Monitors $30,000 748  
9. Free Little Libraries $13,000 620  
10. O'Connell Library Furniture $36,000 534  
11. North Cambridge Community Garden $240,000 521  
12. Planting Materials $40,000 506  
13. Traffic Garden $200,000 475  
14. Danehy Fitness Equipment $65,000 468  
15. Dog Park $250,000 302  
16. Peace Garden $340,000 297  
17. Russell Field Mural $22,000 289  
18. Wayfinding Banners $15,600 274  
19. 83 Bus Shelter Renovation $75,000 271  
20. Raymond Park Community Improvements $20,000 193  


Winning projects were included in the City's FY16 Capital Budget, which is available online here (see Section VI - Public Investment). Implementation will take place during FY16, which runs from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. We'll post updates about project implementation in the project tracker at the top of this page as well as in our blog, so please stay tuned!


PB1 Evaluation

Nada Zohdy, a recent graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, completed an independent evaluation of the City's pilot Participatory Budgeting process in June 2015 to inform us about what worked well and what we should change in order to improve the process.  We continue to refer back to this tool as we plan for the various stages of the City's second PB cycle with the Steering Committee.

Please click below to download and read the complete report.