Downtown 'participatory budgeting' pays dividends; Candler Park is next
It’s been a year since Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi’s grand idea to let ordinary citizens dictate infrastructure improvements began to take shape in the form of a solid project list.
The fruits of that labor—and so much community input—are beginning to ripen across downtown. And now Candler Park is on deck.
The pilot program uses an approach called participatory budgeting, or PB for short. In Atlanta, it all started when Farokhi, the District 2 representative, discovered about $1 million in unspent transportation infrastructure funding in his district’s coffers in 2018—and a lightbulb flicked on.
In late 2019, with the council’s backing, Farokhi launched a campaign called Downtown Decides that allowed his constituency—the people using downtown’s streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes on a daily basis—to pitch transportation projects deserving of the extra million bucks.
More than 3,000 Atlantans took part—enough for Farokhi’s office to call the program a “major success” during a ribbon-cutting tour of projects last week.
Seventeen projects were picked from a shortlist of 34, and so far, seven have wrapped. They range from the seemingly simple (additional trash and recycling receptacles on Edgewood Avenue) to more involved (a realignment of bike lanes on Peachtree Center Avenue to boost safety).
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