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Some Louisville Residents Can Now Vote On Neighborhood Improvement Projects

Girls use the swings on the playground at Shawnee Park.
Girls use the swings on the playground at Shawnee Park.

The voting period is open for publicly-funded projects in Louisville’s District 6 and District 8, which include the California, Park Hill and Highlands neighborhoods.

This is Louisville's first experience with participatory budgeting, a process through which citizens help decide how public officials spend funds in their neighborhoods. Cities ranging from Chicago to Cambridge, Mass., use this system.

Residents of Districts 6 and 8 have until March 15 to weigh in on the proposals by voting either online or in-person. Each district has $100,000 of public and private funds to spend on projects ranging from public water fountains to improved sidewalks, from renovating a playground to improving community centers.

City officials hope that having residents rank which of the eight finalists in their districts they'd prefer to see will help choose the best projects to fund, said Aja Barber, a project manager for Louisville Metro’s Center for Health Equity. The community submitted more than 400 proposals to the Our Money, Our Voice initiative.

"We asked them what do you need in your neighborhood?" she said. "How would you want these dollars to be spent in a way that’s going to really improve how you experience not just trying to travel around your neighborhood but how you experience being in relationship to your other neighbors?"

Barber said improving access to public places or facilities can encourage people to be more active and lead to better health outcomes.

"There’s direct relationship between investment in neighborhoods, between investment in infrastructure and collective population health," she said.

Residents of Districts 6 and 8 age 14 and up can vote in-person or online.

Councilman Brandon Coan, who represents District 8, said participatory budgeting is an example of "real, direct democracy."

"It's actually putting the ability to spend dollars directly in people's hands," he said.

In District 6, the finalists include improving sidewalks across the district for $100,000 and improving the alley near St. Catherine Court for $10,000. The projects in District 8 are also at different scales; citizens could choose to fund radar-activated speed limit signs on Speed Avenue for $10,000, or improve the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Baxter Avenue for $100,000.

Barber said if residents choose the smaller projects, Our Money, Our Voice will fund them in priority order until the money runs out.

Sample ballots with project details are available online for District 6 and District 8.

The next in-person voting day for District 6 is February 21 at the California Community Center from 5:30 to 8 p.m. District 8 residents can next vote in-person on February 23 at Bellarmine University's Centro and McGowan Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. More voting details, including how to register to vote online, are here.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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