Conversation? What conversation?

When Councilman Quinton Lucas was admonished in a City Council Legislative Session a couple weeks back for not giving the community the opportunity to weigh in on his Dr. Martin Luther King on the Paseo ordinance, you would have thought that he would have had his calendar out immediately to schedule those public forums to openly discuss the matter. However, that has not been the case. There has been zero discussion on the matter as far as this news-dog knows and no public opportunities for comment have come through this news organization. All of this leads the dog to one conclusion. Councilman Lucas talks a good game, but when the demand for transparency and public input is made, cue the crickets.

For the record, this news outlet even went so far as to reserve a venue on two separate dates back in November for a community forum to allow open discussion on the matter. Two dates were floated but Councilman Lucas failed to respond in enough time to allow proper notice to the public, even allowing one date to pass before contacting one of our reporters about a podcast opportunity.

During that marathon council session, Lucas was admonished by the Mayor as well as Northland Councilwoman Heather Hall for jumping the chain and not following the process for ordinance approval as set forth in the City Charter. Hall expertly noted that the city already has an MLK Park, then cited the city statute that limits memorial naming rights to one location. Additionally, Hall, Councilwoman Alicia Canady, and the Mayor also stated that the conversations they’ve had with constituents indicated that roughly 80-85% of conversations they had on the matter were dead set against the name change.

Councilwoman Hall also asked a key question regarding the time and money city staff had painstakingly spent on having The Paseo designated as a historically significant property, adding that time, energy, and money would essentially be thrown out the window should Lucas’ ordinance pass.

The Paseo is part of the Kansas City Parks and Boulevards Historic District that was officially designated in 2016. According to the National Parks Service website, the Historic District “is eligible locally for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A and C in the area of Community Planning and Development and in the area of Landscape Architecture.”

This Dog has been involved in historic designation filings before, in the designation of the Scarritt Point National Register District, and knows a little about that process. It’s no walk in the park, pardon the pun, requiring thousands of hours of survey and documentation work that must be done to Department of Interior standards for historic designations.

Allowing the ordinance to be pushed back yet again, to be heard in the last Council session of the year, is a strategic stalling tactic in this Dog’s eyes. Putting it on a docket during the holidays when scheduling time off becomes even more difficult for the work a day world is strategically favorable to Councilman Lucas because citizens will be less likely to make the traverse to City Hall a third or fourth time to offer testimony. He’s keenly aware opponents will more often give up on the matter, making it look like the opposition simply acquiesced on the issue. Yet, to date, still no community conversation on the matter. With the opposition running between 80-85% against the renaming of The Paseo, this community minded news-dog can only imagine why.

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