Petition to keep The Paseo gains hundreds of signatures despite city council vote

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The names are growing on a petition aimed at keeping The Paseo.

At the end of January, city council members voted to rename the street Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Now, some residents want to take the decision to the ballot.

Residents like lead petitioner and Kansas City historian, Diane Euston, who said the street is just as long as its history in the city.

"I don't want people in 100 years not to know what The Paseo really meant to this community," Euston said. "Renaming a street is fine, just not The Paseo."

She and her mother spent Tuesday afternoon talking with residents and taking signatures at Mama Tio's, a Mexican restaurant along The Paseo. People who signed the petition agreed that MLK should be honored in the city, but they believe changing The Paseo is not the way to do it.

"It was denied by the Parks and Rec, and then all of the sudden, boom, here it is. And I'm not happy with that, and there are other things that could be named for him," said Judy Louellen, who lives near The Paseo.

"I'm not opposed to it, but yet at the same time, I don't think we should offend people that have such a long history with the city here as well," longtime resident, Steve Godsey, said.

Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Alissia Canady voted no on the name change when it came before the council. She believes much of the city wasn't in favor of the change, but believes there is a way to honor Dr. King in Kansas City.

"This was allowed to move forward totally disregarding their opposition, which was well-stated and well-documented to the council members," Canady said. "The goal is for us to get to a place where we can work towards a solution to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and honor in a way that unifies this city and not divides it in the way this process has."

Councilmen Jermaine Reed and Quinton Lucas both led the charge on the initiative, and voted in favor of changing The Paseo to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Both are also running for mayor of Kansas City.

Lucas was unavailable for an interview, but said in a statement:

"I respect the petitioners’ group right to organize and look forward to further conversations with them on this and many other important topics like crime, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, and quality affordable housing impacting our great City."

Reed was also unavailable, but sent FOX4 a statement in regards to the petition:

"I am supportive of any citizen exercising their democratic rights.  If you do not agree with an action of the city council as a legislative body, you certainly have the right to take action.

There are more than 900 streets named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  in 42 states – our city should be no exception.  As Dr. King once said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

Euston said she hopes with enough signatures they will be able to give every Kansas Citian a chance to have their voice heard on the future of the historic thoroughfare.

"I want to make sure that we don't rewrite Kansas City's history," Euston said. "Paseo needs to stay. This is extremely important personally, and professionally for me. To make sure that we honor our past, and don't change things that don't need to be changed."

If you would like to sign the petition you need to be registered to vote in Kansas City, and sign the petition in person. For more information on how you can sign it you can join the Facebook group called Save the Paseo.

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