KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Back in January, the city council voted to rename the Paseo Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. That didn’t go over well with people who live in the area of the Paseo.
Many were unhappy with the way city leaders went about the process and say there were not enough needed signatures of people who live on the street to support the name change. People in the community banded together to form a grassroots organization and collected enough signatures to force the issue to a public vote.
Tuesday night, they were successful. The ten mile stretch of road was renamed the Paseo. People in favor of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard are now looking forward to other ways to honor the civil rights legend.
“Anytime you do something against the will of the people, the people usually step up and make their voices heard, so we began to organize right away,” Tim Smith with Save the Paseo said.
“The voters decided that they were not pleased with the name Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard being on the Paseo, so now my question for the community is, how do we get some form of representation for Dr. Martin Luther King in our city?” Pastor LaRon Thompson for Paseo Baptist Church said.
There are still Paseo signs posted at 11th and the Paseo down by 39th that were never taken down.
The city spent nearly $60,000 to replace about 189 Paseo signs. They expect to spend $30,000-$40,000 more to swap out Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard signs.
The cost is lower because highway and LED signs were never switched over to Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and they don’t have to make Paseo signs because they stored them earlier this year just as their planning to do with the Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard signs.
“We’re going to hang on to the MLK signs in the event there’s a future corridor that needs to be changed out,” Maggie Green with Kansas City Public Works said.
Thompson took over Paseo Baptist Church after Pastor Charles Briscoe died. He has continued his fight to name the Paseo Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard.
“We did see it come to fruition, unfortunately the voters have decided to change it back,” Thompson said.
While this issue has taken on national spotlight, Thompson has a message for those watching from the outside.
“We are a city that will come together and make Doctor King’s legacy honored here in Kansas City,” Thompson said.
Mayor Quinton Lucas says going forward, it must be a community lead effort. He says he’s asked the parks board to be a key part of that process. The public works department says they have to wait a couple weeks to make sure voters are certified before they can begin swapping signs.