How will Durham spend $2.4 million in taxpayer money? Here’s what 300 people want so far.

City of Durham logo on the side of City Hall.
City of Durham logo on the side of City Hall. dvaughan@newsobserver.com

Durham is going to spend $2.4 million on projects its residents will get to pick.

You don’t need to be a registered voter or U.S. citizen. Or even an adult. You just need to be a Durhamite at least 13 years old.

It’s called “participatory budgeting,” an idea that other cities including Greensboro have tried.

In that city, residents used participatory budgeting to get bus shelters, solar charging stations and playground improvements.

About 300 people in Durham have already made suggestions, including:

More bilingual materials in Durham County libraries

▪ A lighted artistic gateway sign for downtown Durham on the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge over N.C. 147.

Speed bumps on Berkeley Street, Kirkwood Road and Banner Street

Crosswalks at Cornwallis Road intersections

Historic images or artwork on blank walls of buildings on East Chapel Hill Street between Foster Street and Five Points

Sidewalks on Hillandale Road, Iredell Street, Rose of Sharon Road, Hope Valley Road, Lumley Road and several others

“Cheap, retro advertising” billboards at the old Durham Athletic Park

A tiny houses community

Pedestrian bridges over busy streets like Roxboro, Duke and Leon streets

A supervised visitation center for parents and children

Enhancements to the historic corridor of Bragtown

Painted crosswalk artwork in neighborhoods across Durham

Burying overhead wires and cables

More recreation centers

Flood mitigation

A public nature preserve or park at Mangum and Hunt streets

A school cafeteria composting program

Doulas, or birth companions, for all pregnant women in labor

Participation in International Self-Care Day promoting healthier life styles

Pump track for bicycles at Belmont Park

Street lights in Colonial Village

Signage for the R. Kelly Bryant Bridge for pedestrians on side streets nearby

Improvements to Hillside Park

Check out all the ideas or submit your own at pbdurham.mapseed.org.

How it got started

Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson, who has promoted participatory budgeting, wanted to spend $2.5 million, but city staff members recommended just $750,000

In May, the City Council voted 5-2 to spend $2.4 million, or less than 1 percent of the city’s annual budget. Mayor Steve Schewel and City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton voted no. They both wanted an amount closer to what the staff had recommended.

What’s next

The deadline for ideas is Friday, Dec. 21. This winter, volunteer budget delegates will develop ideas into feasible proposals that will be vetted. The project proposals will be voted on in May, and winning projects will get underway when the new fiscal year starts in July.

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