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KC parks board considers proposal for street named after MLK

Posted at 6:42 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 20:05:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could soon be honored with a street named after him in Kansas City, Missouri.

City leaders changed Paseo Boulevard to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in early 2019 before voters, many of whom cited concerns over preserving the street’s history, voted to change it back in November 2019.

Now, another street might be renamed in King’s honor under a proposal formally recommended Tuesday by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City at a meeting of the KC Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners.

The SCLC-GKC proposes renaming the Blue Parkway, Swope Parkway, Volker Drive thoroughfare, which runs past the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, after King beginning at 55th Street.

“This compilation of thoroughfares represents a major quantity of miles spanning the city limits, which has always been an important factor,” SCLC-GKC President Rev. Dr. Vernon Percy Howard Jr. said in a letter addressed to KC Parks Commissioner Chris Goode. “Secondly, this artery assures direct exposure of the iconic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd to Black lives.”

That latter reason, the letter said, was especially important for Black children in Kansas City.

The proposed section of roads to be renamed also are part of the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax boundary, which should help foster economic growth — an important consideration for the SCLC-GKC.

Goode initially proposed renaming the J.C. Nichols Fountain and J.C. Nichols Parkway near the Country Club Plaza in King’s honor earlier this summer.

The idea garnered widespread support, but SCLC-GKC leadership were among those who pushed back, citing a desire to find a local area with a greater connection to the Black community.

Instead, the KC Parks board voted to remove Nichols’ name from the fountain and road, which is now called Mill Creek Parkway — its original name — once again.

Two public hearings are required to change the street names in accordance with the city’s charter, the details of which will be posted on the KC Parks website at a later date.

Citizen comments will be permitted for at least 30 days after formal adoption of the proposal.

After those 30 days, the Board of Commissioners can consider a resolution to rename the roads.