Is it the bathrooms at Maria Hernandez park? A lack of affordable housing for seniors? The potholes on Broadway?

Bushwick residents are being invited to have their say on what projects they think could benefit the community best, and it’s all thanks to innovation from Brooklyn’s Community Board 4.

This year, for the first time ever, the community board has launched a series of surveys for Bushwick residents to speak their minds ahead of New York City’s budget process.

Photo credit: Brooklyn Community Board 4

Community Board 4 District Manager Celestina Leon said the idea for the surveys came from a desire to have more community input ahead of the city budgeting process.

“The purpose of us having more feedback from the community when we’re going into those conversations is so that we have the extra people-power behind us,” Leon said.

Why does your voice count?

Your voice counts because the New York City community boards play a charter-mandated role in the city’s budget process.

Each year the boards participate in borough and district budget consultations prior to submitting a Statement of Community District Needs and Budget Request.

During the consultations, the community board gets to meet with every single city agency to inform them of the community’s needs.

A community composting site in Bushwick. Photo: Anna Bradley-Smith for BK Reader.

If a community has the data to back up those needs, we’re more likely to get the attention and funding to get the job done, Leon said.

“The goal is to inform the agencies so that they are informed when they engage with council members and start talking about the amount of money needed.”

An example might be all the complaints the board gets about the bathrooms in Maria Hernandez park “falling apart.” The board would put in a request with parks department, which would trigger conversations around getting the money to replace them.

This year, the board will be submitting its statement of needs for Bushwick on the last week of October.

Power in numbers

Community Board 4 collects data in various ways to try to get an overview of the most wide-spread needs of Bushwick, Leon said.

Not only will she be using the surveys, she also compiles data from 311 requests in the area, phone calls and emails to the board, and things that come up often in meetings.

“Maybe its just me and my love for this job, but it’s so amazing to see people answering some of these questions,” Leon said of the new surveys.

Intersection of Broadway and Greene Avenues.

Asked what the top three most common concerns are in Bushwick, Leon doesn’t skip a beat.

“The first one of course is affordable housing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every board had that in their top three,” she said.

The second most common request was for affordable supportive housing for seniors, followed by requests to fix the streets and Broadway in particular.

What to expect

The surveys are designed to let you have your say on whatever is on your mind.

They are divided into themes, so you only have to spend five minutes answering questions related to the themes that resonate with you.

For example, questions in the Health Care & Human Services survey ask about your experience at Woodhull Medical Center, or if you knew there was a city-owned Olympic-size swimming pool in Bushwick.

Questions in the Parks, Cultural and Community Facilities survey inquire about your thoughts on the local libraries and parks you attend.

There’s questions on trash collection, snow removal and even on whether people pick up their dogs’ poop on your block.

“Some of those questions will inform how sanitation does enforcement in the neighborhood,” Leon said. “Now it’s not just me saying, ‘Hey, I got 30 calls about this. It’s, ‘Hey, 600 people filled out these surveys.’ It will help, I believe.”

The themed surveys are accessible here now: Health Care & Human Services, Youth, Education, & Child Welfare, Public Safety & Emergency Services, Core Infrastructure, City Services, & Resiliency, Housing, Economic Development, & Land Use, Transportation & Mobility and Parks, Cultural, & other Community .Facilities.

Get yours done by late October, for the chance to have your voice heard in improving Bushwick. Find the surveys above, or sign up for the Community Board 4 newsletter here.

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Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a freelance writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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