Downtown residents and officials celebrated the completion of four more projects in the Downtown Decides program, including the Peachtree Center Avenue bike lane reconfiguration. (Photo by Stanchez Kenyata)

Candler Park residents can make recommendations for community improvements all month long as part of City Councilmember Amir Farokhi’s participatory budgeting pilot program.

All through the month of April, residents can go to and submit their best ideas on how to improve the Candler Park neighborhood using public dollars. The only restrictions: It has to come in under the program’s $45,000 budget, and submissions must impact arts and culture or parks and greenspace in the area.

Once project submissions are made, residents will then get to vote on their favorites.

The Candler Park undertaking is the sequel to Downtown Decides!, a $1 million transportation-focused PB pilot launched by the District 2 office in 2019. More than 3,000 Atlantans took part and 17 projects were selected from a list of 34 proposals. Seven of those projects have been completed with the remaining 10 in various stages of implementation.

“Our PB [participatory budgeting] work Downtown has really succeeded my expectations, both in terms of the level of participation and how quickly we’ve been able to deliver completed projects,” Farokhi said. “Hopefully we can build momentum from our work there as we embark on this new effort in Candler Park. We’ve pivoted this time to focus on arts as well as parks and greenspace. That leaves a lot of room for creativity. I’m intrigued to see what kinds of ideas people come up with this time around.”

Farokhi hopes that these successive PB programs light the way for future growth.

“Ultimately, I would like to see this expanded citywide and have it be something we have as a fixed portion of our annual budget. But for now the focus is on delivering in Downtown and now Candler Park – to show people that PB works and can be scaled. Major cities the world over are embracing this model. I want Atlanta to stand at the forefront of progressive, innovative thinking, not only in the American South but globally. Embracing initiatives like this is part of that broader vision.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.