StreetsBlog Chicago has an article on Chicago Participatory Budgeting, a process in which ward residents vote on what projects the alderman's $1.3 million in infrastructure "menu money" should go towards. A handful of aldermen take part in it in Chicago (just three in 2013).
In 2012-2013, the 46th Ward participated (but won't this year), and the 47th Ward did a so on an unofficial basis.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
[L]ast year’s election in the 46th Ward, largely Uptown, was a grand slam for ground-breaking transportation projects. Residents opted to fund SherMon Plaza, a project that will connect a traffic island at Sheridan/Montrose/Broadway to the sidewalk to create a new public space, and the Leland Greenway, leading from Clark to the lakefront. They also chose to bankroll crosswalks, pedestrian countdown signals and traffic calming, and to pay for building or refreshing bike lanes on several streets in the ward. The other winning proposals were for security cameras in Sheridan Park and a left-turn signal at Sheridan/Irving Park.Read why it's not happening in the 46th this year, and learn what's happening with the projects that were voted on last year. If you're not in the 46th Ward, but would like your alderman to consider participatory budgeting, feel free to refer him or her to the article, which is here.