Consider community perspectives in capital planning and decision making

New Yorkers have many avenues to provide feedback to City agencies, including surveys, town halls, community boards, and 311. This TYCS reflects how City agencies are developing new processes to ensure that these perspectives are considered within capital project planning, prioritization, design, and implementation

Considering public feedback within individual agency planning cycles: City agencies are increasingly using community feedback to establish need, influence project planning, and validate existing assumptions at different project stages (e.g., annual budget process, scoping, design, implementation). This helps ensure that projects reflect public concerns and respond to community needs. Feedback also helps planners understand community views on existing infrastructure, which helps improve future project planning and delivery.

Parks Without Borders

The Parks Without Borders program is making parks more open, welcoming, and beautiful by improving entrances, edges, and park-adjacent spaces. In winter 2015-16, DPR asked New Yorkers to help select eight park projects which would most benefit from this design approach. During the three-month comment period, DPR actively engaged New Yorkers through online surveys and dozens of workshops and presentations. After this community input, DPR invested $40 million of Parks Without Borders funding in eight projects that had the strongest community support, the right physical conditions, and the ability to benefit most from this innovative design approach. These projects (in Van Cortlandt Park, Virginia Park, Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park, Jackie Robinson Park, Seward Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Faber Park) are currently scheduled to open in 2020.

Parks without borders - Before

Parks without borders - After

Community Board Budget Requests

Every year, the City’s 59 Community Boards are invited to submit their prioritized capital and operational needs to City agencies, who evaluate the requests and then respond during the same budget year. There are over 3,500 requests submitted each year; agencies use these requests to help identify neighborhood specific and citywide issues, inform public outreach and engagement strategies, and help evaluate state of good repair priorities. For example, based on comprehensive community outreach during the Jerome Avenue Neighborhood Study and community board budget requests, DPR has planned significant capital improvements to Corporal Irwin Fischer Park in the Bronx.

Strengthening our ability to collect and assess community perspectives: City agencies are continually working to improve methods of collecting different types of feedback from the community about local needs and project priorities.

  • Using technology to facilitate direct conversations on capital project prioritization: Since 2015, DOT has used its Street Ambassador Program expand public engagement around its Street Improvement Projects. The Ambassadors engage the community at events, parks, and busy streets, using smartphones to collect information regarding street and safety improvements in many languages. To date, they have conducted nearly 32,000 conversations, particularly with groups that are traditionally underrepresented at public meetings. DOT uses this information to help prioritize specific street and safety improvements.
  • Giving communities tools and information to help advocate for their capital needs: City agencies strive to provide information in accessible formats to ensure that communities are able to participate meaningfully in planning processes. DCP has created the Community District Profiles, an interactive web tool that makes detailed data about community districts more accessible. Members of the public and City agencies alike have access to easy-touse maps and graphs that show key socioeconomic, demographic, and select service performance indicators for each community district. Information about the built environment for each district is now available in a single place; for example, zoning, land use, facilities, and existing and planned projects can be found alongside information about flood risk. See them on Community District Profiles.
  • Aligning different types of community data to improve operational and capital planning: The City’s 311 process collects complaints and information related to non-emergency services and tracks responses and response rates. In FY2018, City agencies received 42 million inquires via phone, mobile app, Twitter, and the web. They use this data to improve operational efficiencies, understand citywide and neighborhood-specific trends, and prioritize long-term investments in infrastructure, equipment, and resources to help mitigate future issues. At the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), local district supervisors use 311 data, Rapid Snow Conditions Reports, and Community Board Budget Requests to evaluate the effectiveness of plow routes, plan future operations and allocate additional capital resources as necessary, such as the need for small haulsters to address snow-plowing on narrow streets.
  • Helping the community identify locations for capital development: The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) partners with local community organizations and small business stakeholders in conducting Neighborhood 360° Commercial District Needs Assessments (CDNA). This analysis reviews storefront and retail mix, considers merchant and consumer surveys, and assesses streetscape conditions that could impact the local economy. Recommendations include participation in programs to support merchants and consumers, and a range of streetscape enhancements supported by Cityfunded Neighborhood 360° grants. SBS has completed CDNAs in ten neighborhoods, awarding more than $8 million in grant funding from FY17 through FY20 to 12 local community-based organizations in six of these neighborhoods to date.

Continue to Priority 1: Maintain our infrastructure in a state of good repair