KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Parks and Rec Board is considering renaming J.C. Nichols Fountain and Parkway in a bid to remove the name of the real estate developer who also spurred redlining and racial division in the city.
Parks Board Commissioner Chris Goode presented a letter Tuesday, urging the board to rename both the fountain in Mill Creek Park and the parkway.
Goode wrote that he felt compelled to act after seeing Kansas City’s protests based in the park where the controversial fountain sits.
Nichols is best known as the developer of the Country Club. But he also built several other new neighborhoods in the Kansas City area that prohibited sales to black people.
“The fountain named in his honor, as well as the adjoining parkway, allow racism to take center stage in our most photographed, valued and visited destination in Kansas City,” Goode wrote.
Many attribute some of the Kansas City metro’s harsh racial and financial divide to Nichols.
“No person accelerated white flight, redlining and racial division in the Kansas City area more than J.C. Nichols,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement from the Parks Board. “The time has long passed that we remove Kansas City’s memorials to his name.”
Lucas said he fully supports renaming the fountain and parkway.
Goode’s letter suggests renaming the fountain as the “Dream Fountain” and the parkway as the “Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.”
Kansas City leaders tried to rename The Paseo after the civil rights icon last year. But after frustration from many who live and work along the boulevard, the name went before voters. The Paseo street signs went back up in February.
Now, the renaming of J.C. Nichols Parkway will go before the public in two citizen engagement sessions, which will be scheduled in the next 30 days.
The Parks Board said, given the current events, it feels “imperative to move swiftly as well as thoughtfully to ensure this process is transparent and inclusive.”
“The time has come for us to stop turning a blind eye towards racism of past and present,” Goode wrote. “There is no immediate resolution to racism, that of which has been deeply embedded for over 400 years into the fabric of this country. We can however, make a collective decision to simply do the right thing, now.”