Every year, the town board considers various investments to make throughout Irondequoit. Our budget process is a statement of priorities and is based on what we believe lies in the best interest of our town’s residents. This is the essence of the representative democracy that defines American government.
Over the past few years, however, Irondequoit has become a leader in allowing citizens to directly help steer the investments we make in our neighborhoods. It began in 2015, when the town board decided to allocate money received from a code enforcement violation by the former owner of Medley Centre to fund neighborhood-based projects. The one nuance, however, was the we asked for residents to propose ideas for consideration.
Since then, the Irondequoit Neighborhood Enhancement program has grown into an avenue by which neighborhoods can propose and advocate for projects that both enrich quality of life in Irondequoit and better define the identity of our town’s many wonderful neighborhoods. Last year, NEP served as a catalyst for the formation of over a dozen new neighborhood associations in town, all of which either advanced or jointly submitted an application.
Are these projects major capital investments? Not necessarily; however, I consider these to be relatively high impact in nature. For instance, in the coming weeks residents driving down St. Paul Boulevard will see banners identifying the several neighborhoods that abut this corridor in our town. You may have noticed several Little Libraries popping up throughout Irondequoit. That is the direct result of our neighborhood associations identifying these as priority projects, and thanks to a partnership with Irondequoit Rotary they can be found in new parts of town.
Some NEP projects that have been advanced are definitive neighborhood priorities, but may lie outside the town’s jurisdiction or ability to finance through this particular budget item. That has not translated to a dead end, however. Last year, a neighborhood’s recommendation for new playground equipment was incorporated into our overall Capital Improvement Plan. The Lakeside Neighborhood asked for a crosswalk to provide safer crossing of Lake Shore Boulevard to the trail along Lake Ontario. The town made a request to Monroe County on their behalf, and the enhancement is now planned for this year.
This year’s application process is now open and may be accessed on the town’s website at irondequoit.org. If you have additional questions about the program, please contact my office at 585-336-6029 or IHELP@irondequoit.org. The town board will be accepting application until Sept. 15.
I am comfortable speaking for my fellow board members when I state that we are excited to see what new ideas will come forward. This initiative has allowed our citizens to feel more a part of their government, and I am proud that it has been embraced by our community.