GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids residents have through Wednesday to vote on how the city spends $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Voting started Friday and can be done online at PBGR.org, in person at all Grand Rapids Public Library locations, and at pop-up voting events taking place through Oct. 5. Voters can choose from a list of several projects separated by wards.
The Participatory Budget Grand Rapids (PBGR) steering committee, which is made up of city residents from each ward, has been working for months on surveying residents and community leaders to gather project ideas before forming the list that appears on the PBGR ballot.
The city of Grand Rapids received a $92 million ARPA allocation, but only $2 million is being used in the PBGR process. The $2 million will be split among each ward, with $600,000 for the first ward, $400,000 for the second ward, and $1 million for the third ward.
Residents can only vote on ideas for the ward in which they live by ranking the list of projects they want to see happen.
The projects on the PBGR ballot for the first ward are:
- Cleaning up GR ($75,000);
- Plaster Creek mural project ($55,000);
- Citizen Advocacy Skills Academy ($100,000);
- Community reading initiative for violence reduction ($50,000);
- Affordable childcare for second- and third-shift workers ($150,000);
- Youth affordable housing support ($145,000);
- Supporting victims of domestic violence and human trafficking ($100,000);
- The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) employment opportunities project ($200,000); and
- South Division beautification and greenscaping grants ($250,000).
Second ward projects are:
- Youth media training program ($200,000);
- Mental health community first responder ($350,000);
- Expanding the Cure Violence program ($250,000);
- The community pantry ($150,000);
- The human library pilot program for community conversations on mental health ($100,000);
- Palmer Elementary reading and arts initiative ($50,000);
- Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) planning guide ($50,000); and
- Lower elementary reading initiative ($75,000).
Third ward projects are:
- Madison Square Library upgrades ($250,000);
- Lead line removal ($500,000);
- Community based violence reduction initiative ($250,000);
- City policy and equity practice review ($336,000);
- Neighborhood/community building grants ($200,000);
- Broadcast media academy ($120,000);
- BIPOC entrepreneurial support grants centered on supporting BIPOC owned businesses ($100,000);
- Affordable quality child care ($150,000);
- Youth affordable housing support ($145,000); and
- MLK Park Lodge construction ($100,000).
Kenny Medrano, PBGR communications lead, previously told MiBiz that the committee hopes the city uses the participatory budget process in the future after this round of funding is allocated.
The PBGR Steering Committee includes: Mallory Patterson and Michael Scholten representing the first ward; Doug Booth, Lisa Knight and Cailin Kelly representing the second ward; and Kristian Grant, LaKiya Thompson-Jenkins and Pastor Kenneth Hoskins representing the third ward.