Niagara Falls residents and the Community Development Department team worked together to build the 2017 Action Plan over the past 4 months. We thank our residents for being part of our 10 public meetings and throughout the 16 week public input period and responding citizen surveys, setting valuable priorities.
Your ideas, as neighborhood experts, are the strength of our annual plans. As a result, we are presenting a budget that leverages $2.8 million in United States Department of Housing and Urban Development funds into a $4.9 million action plan focused on neighborhood investment. Our priorities are clear: continue the positive trends of home owner renovations, first time home buyer grants, investments in parks and public spaces, and programs that provide activities for our young people.
We are also taking community decision making to the next level with our 2017 Action Plan. For the first time, the proposal includes participatory budgeting (PB): the democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. PB invites taxpayers to work with government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives. Residents brainstorm spending ideas, volunteer budget delegates develop proposals based on these ideas, residents vote on proposals, and the government implements the top projects. We will look at the remaining public park improvement recommendations made in the 2012 Parks Master Plan master plan, as the starting point. Residents will then form public committees to plan the actual projects, and go directly to the community for a vote with electronic tablets on a project ranking and ultimately which projects should be completed. Traditionally, governments ask people to come to them, especially when it comes to giving opinions or raising concerns. With PB, we will go directly to the neighborhoods for ideas and project votes, bringing the process to you. Time and again we are reminded that our best projects and initiatives start with the public’s ideas not ours. PB is our way of taking that community partnership and trust to the next level.
We invite the public to review the draft 2017 Action Plan at the Carnegie Building (1022 Main Street), both public libraries, online at www.nf-cd.org and to email any questions to 2017ActionPlan@niagarafallsny.gov As always, our team thanks the Niagara Falls community for the privilege of working together, every day.