Not This Again: Is Yet Another Battle Brewing over Renaming The Paseo for MLK?

Kansas City Star, March 3, 2019

Just when it appeared that Kansas City had finally ended a protracted battle over renaming a street or landmark for Martin Luther King Jr., a new effort to thwart the plan to rechristen The Paseo has emerged.

Some property and business owners on The Paseo have started a petition initiative to squash plans to rename the street for the civil rights leader. And after months of missteps and squabbling, what appeared to finally be a done deal could unravel all over again.

Renaming The Paseo in honor of King remains the best option among those that have been considered. The nearly 10-mile-long road runs through the heart of the city’s predominantly African-American East Side.

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And city officials should provide residents with guidance about whether to change their addresses while this tangled mess is sorted out. For now, limiting confusion and unnecessary expense should be the goal.

Bryon Johnmeyer is part of a group that believes the City Council improperly ignored an ordinance requiring approval from 75 percent of property owners on the street to make the change. {snip}

The goal is to gather enough signatures through petition to force a vote on the name change among property owners on The Paseo.

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Last year, the Board of Parks and Recreation, which oversees the city’s boulevards, rebuffed an attempt to rename The Paseo for King.

Kansas City was one of the nation’s largest municipalities without a street or major building bearing King’s name until the City Council approved the change in January. The council waived the property owners’ approval requirement.

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Process matters, and this one was flawed. But honoring King 51 years after his death is long overdue. And the prospect of undoing this decision to pay respect to King would be yet another embarrassment for Kansas City.

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“Anyone attempting to vote to take honor from a man that died for their right to vote is a betrayal not only of Dr. King but the community that fought so hard to make this happen,” he said.

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