SOLEDAD — Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC), in partnership with the City of Soledad, announced that Soledad residents and workers, age 14 and older, will have the opportunity to vote to determine which Safe Routes to School projects to fund in their city.
Voters can cast their votes from May 18-25 by selecting from a list of projects developed by the Soledad Safe Routes to School Steering Committee and designed to make it safer for youth and families to get to and from school.
The Steering Committee, formed in October 2022 and made up of residents and community advocates, worked with the Safe Routes to School Program partners and the City of Soledad to develop a list of 18 projects for the community to vote on. Through this participatory budgeting process, residents will help determine how to spend $250,000 allocated for program safety improvements.
“Participatory budgeting is a democratic process where community members decide how to spend part of a public budget,” according to TAMC. “A Steering Committee made up of community representatives, including students, parents, schools, advocacy groups and residents, is formed to design the election process.”
The election will kick off at the Soledad Farmers Market on Thursday, May 18, from 4 to 8 p.m., at Soledad and Front streets in Soledad, where community members can learn about the projects, ask questions and cast their votes either on-site, online at the Soledad Participatory Budgeting webpage bit.ly/soledadpb, or take a ballot and drop it off at one of the ballot drop-off sites.
Ballots may be dropped off at the following school sites, Monday through Friday: Rose Ferrero Elementary, 400 Entrada Drive; Frank Ledesma Elementary, 973 Vista De Soledad; Jack Franscioni Elementary, 779 Orchard Lane; Gabilan Elementary, 330 Walker Drive; San Vicente Elementary, 1300 Metz Road; Main Street Middle, 441 Main St.; Soledad High, 425 Gabilan Drive; and Pinnacles High, 690 Main St.
Other ballot drop-off sites are: Soledad Branch Library, 401 Gabilan Drive; Soledad Community Center, 560 Walker Drive; and Soledad City Hall, 248 Main St., during regular operating hours.
The winning projects will be announced in June and recommended for implementation to the Soledad City Council.
The participatory budgeting process in Monterey County is part of the Salinas Valley Safe Routes to School Plan being implemented in Soledad, Gonzales, Greenfield and King City. The Plan will be adopted in spring 2024.
The Safe Routes to School Program is a Measure X-funded initiative.
“The Program leverages Measure X with state and federal funds for projects and programs that improve children’s health by making walking and bicycling safer and easier,” according to TAMC.
For more information about the Soledad Participatory Budgeting project, visit bit.ly/soledadpb, or go to the Salinas Valley Safe Routes to School Plan webpage saferoutesmonterey.org/evaluation-salinasvalley/.