Projects from the first-ever cycle of Participatory Budgeting are being rolled out now!
We asked residents and they’ve decided how to improve Somerville with one million dollars. Residents submitted over 900 ideas between March 20th – May 20th, 2023, volunteers spent the summer reviewing scoring, and selecting the 20 best ideas, and voting on the final 20 ideas happened September 13th – October 13th, 2023. Check back for more updates as progress is made on the winning proposals!
In 2024, we’re focused on bringing all five winning projects from the first cycle to completion. Community support has been overwhelmingly positive throughout the project and we plan to bring PB back in 2025!
To review datasets on submitted ideas and votes received, as well as the (optional) demographic data, click here or view below:
Mayor Katjana Ballantyne is announcing the five winning city improvement projects selected by residents from Somerville’s first-ever Participatory Budgeting process. Over 3,500 votes were by the community cast to select which ideas 20 ideas from September 13-October 13. they most wanted to see in-action in their neighborhoods.
“I am thrilled to share the winning ideas from our first-ever Participatory Budgeting cycle. The people of Somerville have made their voices heard, and their creativity and community spirit have shone through,” said Mayor Ballantyne. “The winning ideas reflect the compassion and ingenuity that is so unique to our city, and I want to thank everyone who submitted an idea, voted, or helped get the word out to make this happen. I’d especially like to thank the budget delegate volunteers, who devoted their time this summer to collaborating with City staff to present a thoughtful and impactful final ballot.”
The selected city improvement projects were chosen from the more than 900 ideas submitted by Somerville residents for consideration. The ideas were then evaluated by budget delegate volunteers who collaborated closely with City staff to evaluate each idea’s need, impact, feasibility, and cost to determine the final ballot proposals. Somerville residents ages 12 and up were able to vote on the final ballot of 20 ideas from September 13-October 13.
Somerville Participatory Budgeting 2023 Funded Proposals
|Support Direct Community Food Access
Contract with a nonprofit to strengthen direct community food access programs in Somerville. These initiatives redirect excess food to those in need and/or reduce the barriers for residents to access free or subsidized food using tools like Community Fridges.
|Bike Lane Acceleration
Accelerate the implementation of the Somerville Bicycle Network Plan. This funding will be used to pay for 1-2 miles of Quick-Build bike lanes divided by flexible delineators. This is additional funding, not replacement funding.
|Bus Stop Improvement
Improve access and condition of areas around bus stops in most heavily used corridors in Somerville (Broadway, Washington, Somerville Ave.). Options include real time signage, seating, landscaping, or innovative shade structures.
|Faster BigBelly Trash Can Adoption for Rat Abatement
Place additional BigBelly trash can units through the city to improve cleanliness and decrease the rat population. Part of this funding would also go towards promotional materials explaining measures that all residents can take to reduce the rat population.
|Keep it Cool in the ‘Ville
Install shade structures for parks and public squares. Create cooler, sun-safe areas for pedestrians and park-goers to reduce effects of urban heat.
The total project cost of the funded ideas is $955,000. The City will begin implementing these projects this fall. More complicated projects will take longer to realize, but the work to deliver on these community priorities will begin right away.
Ranked Choice Results
You can sign up to receive emails with progress updates, opportunities to take part in the process, and more. If you are involved with a community organization and would like us to speak to your group about Participatory Budgeting, please contact Megan Huckenpahler.
Many other cities in the United States have already begun the process, starting with Chicago. Government structure, funding source, and voting methodologies vary throughout the US, but listed below are a few cities that closest mirror ours - check out their winning projects for inspiration!
In June 2022, the Mayor proposed―and City Council approved―$1 million to be allocated for the purpose of having community members propose and vote on projects to improve Somerville. The Working Group, made up of 11 residents and one City Councilor, is currently researching, deliberating, and deciding how this initiative will be rolled out in an equitable, inclusive, and engaging manner.
Participatory Budgeting began in Brazil in the 1980s and allows citizens to vote on how they would like to see a portion of government funds spent in the community. It has since expanded to more than 11,000 processes in nations, cities, and educational institutions in over 71 countries. More information can be found in the World PB Atlas.
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