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Greensboro seeks citizen suggestions for Participatory Budgeting, neighborhood improvements

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro is about halfway through its effort to collect as many ideas as possible for the first Participatory Budgeting effort to help neighborhoods with community needs.

The program will split $500,000 among the city’s five districts for capital improvement projects. In the past, city employees have helped decide which street lights, sidewalks and parks needed the improvements. With participatory budgeting, it’s the community bringing its own ideas to the process.

“We just want to hear from everybody,” said Ranata Reeder, a community engagement coordinator for the city of Greensboro. “The goals from the steering committee were equity, empowerment, community building, and transparency so we just want every subset of the population in Greensboro represented here.”

At Monday night’s meeting, ideas such as adding reflectors to city streets for bicyclists, shelters and charging stations for bus stops and water parks in neighborhoods were added to the list of ideas. That community effort to pull more ideas runs through the end of the month. In December, volunteers and city staff will go through the ideas to determine which can be put on a ballot and by the end of May the public will decide which ideas need to be funded.

“People walk around with a lot of ideas in their heads and only forums like this really help bring those to the forefront,” said Sharon Dempsey, a Greensboro resident and participant in Monday night's meeting.

Dempsey would like to see the money spent on programs to help struggling women and children in Greensboro, but the money can only be used for one-time expenditures, not programs or ideas that would add salary to the yearly budget.

You can submit your ideas to the Participatory Budget website or participate in the upcoming community forums listed below.

11/12/2015 Interactive Resource Center, 407 E. Washington St., District 2, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

11/22/2015 Benjamin Branch Library, 1530 Benjamin Parkway, District 4, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

11/23/2015 Windsor Recreation Center 1601 E. Gate City Blvd. 2 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

11/24/2015 Kathleen Clay Edwards Library 1420 Price Park Rd. 4 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.