KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced on Tuesday a 90-day public comment period for suggestions on how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after voters reversed a decision by city council to rename The Paseo in his honor.
“While many people of good heart believed renaming The Paseo Boulevard was a fitting honor, many others of good heart felt that other approaches were more appropriate,” Lucas said in a statement.
Lucas announced that he directed the Parks Board to come up with a way for the community to submit suggestions on the topic. Lucas also said there would be a series of public meetings where people could share their perspectives.
“Together with community members, faith leaders, the City Council, and the Mayor, we will also convene a series of public meetings to continue gathering input before a final making recommendation. Our Board is fully committed to working in a transparent manner and providing regular updates to the community as these discussions continue.”
Voters overwhelmingly voted to restore The Paseo Blvd by nearly a 2 to 1 margin last week. The effort to change the name back was spearheaded by a group called “Save The Paseo.”
The group’s organizer, Diane Euston, said people felt they didn’t get a say in the process.
“The whole idea is to give everyone in the city a chance to decide,” Euston said. “That’s how it should be especially when you are changing something that has so many memories and tangible history attached to it. That’s how it should be done.”
The decision was not without criticism. After the vote, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver criticized the tactics of the “Save The Paseo” group and their silent protest at Paseo Baptist Church.
“Even the Klan never marched into a church where the SCLC, (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) which I was involved with, was holding a rally,” Cleaver told PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton on MSNBC.
This time, Lucas said, the public will take the lead on deciding how to honor Dr. King.
“I learned from my mistakes,” Lucas said. “The process was one that was less than ideal. It didn’t reflect enough public engagement. I have regret, I know a lot of people did. I recall some of my friends who supported the MLK name said they would meet with people up and down the street, that never happened… what we make sure happens is that we have that level of engagement instead of just saying it’ll be this or that.”
Residents of Kansas city can email their ideas to MLKTribute@kcmo.org or mail suggestions to Board of Parks and Recreation commissioners c/o MLK Tribute 4600 E. 63rd Street, Kansas City, MO, 64130.
Lucas said that the public meetings will take place after the 90-day public comment period ends.