Community generates more than 100 potential PBGR projects

Published on March 31, 2022

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – With just over two months remaining to collect community project ideas, the Participatory Budgeting Grand Rapids (PBGR) Steering Committee says it has hit the 100 ideas milestone.

The list of all ideas submitted through PBGR initiative are preliminary and have not yet been vetted to ensure that the ideas meet American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) qualifications or have been determined to be feasible. However, Lisa Knight, PBGR steering committee member, said she is encouraged by the quantity, quality and creativity of the ideas submitted. The full vetting of all ideas will only be made after the project submission window closes May 31.

PBGR reports that ideas have been submitted by residents living in all three City wards and that would benefit all residents. Ideas range from “accelerating replacement of lead service lines in city neighborhoods” to “becoming the first city in the world with 1000gb connection to the internet.”

Some ideas address the economic and health impacts of COVID-19: “Covid continues to impact all health care workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities. A lot of overtime and mandatory long shifts are exhausting those who care for the sickest, doing everything to bring health to the sick while their health (mental and physical) is declining. I would like to see free gym memberships and/or therapy classes that is tailored to improve their own well-being.”

Others address investments in housing and re-housing: “In the spirit of the origins of Participatory Budgeting from the pilot project in Brazil…My proposal is to provide a path to home ownership for folks who are typically relegated to renting due to lower income and social status within the community.”

Still others provide general ideas to improve the quality of life of Grand Rapids: “More street sweeping, mowing and cleanup,” “Pave the alleys near downtown,” and “Provide every home a yard waste bin.”

“As we’ve seen in these submitted ideas, our residents realize that PBGR puts real money in the hands of real people to make real choices about how it is invested our neighborhoods,” Knight said. “We are encouraged to see the response so far and are eager to collect even more great ideas from other members of the community. We encourage everyone’s engagement to let us know how they want this money spent. This funding can transform neighborhoods and we hope those invested in this community will get involved in the process.”

The PBGR Committee is now accepting community project ideas by way of its idea submission portal at PBGR.org. The City of Grand Rapids has reserved $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to fund community projects across all three Grand Rapids City wards. Those who have a great idea to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood can submit an idea and PBGR and can make your idea a reality.

Ideas that meet specific ARPA funding priorities may be submitted for consideration through May 31 in one of four ways:

  • Completing the PBGR Idea Submission Survey at: https://publicinput.com/PBGrandRapids
  • Texting “pb” to 73224
  • Calling and providing your idea to 311 or dialing 616.456.3000
  • Printing the idea submission survey PDF at PBGR.org, filling it out and returning in-person or via U.S. Mail to the City’s Customer Service Center located at: 300 Monroe Avenue NW Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Multiple ideas may be submitted, but each should be submitted on a separate form and returned.

Submitted ideas must fit within one or more of the following categories to be considered and eligible for funding:

  • Infrastructure investments related to water, wastewater and broadband
  • Evidence-based violence reduction strategies
  • Remediation of lead paint or other lead hazards in homes
  • Economic and health impacts of COVID-19 (includes assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits)
  • Incentive pay to front-line workers
  • Investments in housing and re-housing
  • Addressing educational disparities
  • Investing in healthy childhood environments

Following the project idea submittal deadline, the steering committee will work community members within ARPA guidelines and meet with City administrators to determine the feasibility of implementing each idea. Feasible proposals will be put to a public vote to select which projects are forwarded to the City Commission for funding approval.

Over the course of the past seven months, the steering committee has designed the PBGR process from the ground up. With the idea portal launch, Scholten said PBGR is now in its outreach and idea collection stage. The PBGR process includes three main phases: 1) Outreach & Idea Collection; 2) Proposal Development; 3) Voting & Idea selection.

The PBGR Steering Committee includes: (First Ward) Mallory Patterson, Adnoris (Bo) Torres, Michael Scholten; (Second Ward) Doug Booth, Lisa Knight, Cailin Kelly; (Third Ward) Kristian Grant, LaKiya Thompson-Jenkins and Pastor Kenneth Hoskins.

To learn more about the project, the steering committee, or sign up for the newsletter, please visit www.PBGR.org, facebook.com/PBGrandRapids and twitter.com/PBGrandRapids.

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