Save The Paseo. Tara Green (center) and other petition signature gatherers officially filed the Save The Paseo petition, which aims to change Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard back to The Paseo. Elizabeth Orosco


Elizabeth Orosco
Northeast News

Friday morning, April 26, a group of Save the Paseo petition gatherers officially filed a petition to change the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard back to The Paseo. Crews have recently finished changing over 200 signs along the Boulevard to the new name, which took effect in January.

Chief Deputy City Clerk Kelly Varner counted up and time-stamped 359 pages, totaling 2,857 signatures, and gave the group a dated Certificate of Receipt.

Since the contentious legislative session of Kansas City’s City Council on January 26, 2019, which saw the passage of ordinance 180828, changing the name of The Paseo to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, grass roots community activists have been working to have the controversial name change put in front of voters city-wide.

The signatures were sent over to the four Election Boards Friday. The Election Boards will now count up the number of valid signatures on the petitions.

A valid signature is one that meets certain requirements. The signature must be of a registered voter, must match the signature on the voter registration card filed, and must not be a duplicate signature.

The group needs 1,708 valid signatures to meet the requirement. If the number is not met, the group will have 10 days to collect the appropriate number of signatures, take them back to City Hall, and get them validated with the Election Boards. If 1,708 signatures are validated, this will be sent to the City Council and placed on the docket.

Tara Green, signature gatherer with the group Save The Paseo, lives on the Boulevard and said she finds the name change very personal.

“We have one of the last historic mansions that was originally built. We have been restoring it for about four years now and have poured so much blood, sweat, and tears into that property that this has been extremely personal for us. We are the one pouring our money, time, and literally our effort into restoring these properties and you don’t get to say what belongs to us. That’s how we feel. This belongs to us.”

Andre Logan, a signature gatherer for the petition, said there are other ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

“The first thing I thought was ‘why now?’ I understand we are one of the only major cities that doesn’t have a street named after him, but I don’t think that’s a reason to name a street after him. I think there should be other ways to honor Dr. King. We have a park already named after Dr. King. I think there are ways we can do things to honor Dr. King outside of just the symbolic street name change that will be much more effective and push through the legacy that he wanted to have push through. If you think about the park named after him, no one knows where that park is. It’s a city park. It was named after him, but nobody celebrates that. If there are other ways we could advance his legacy, we should focus our efforts on that, not necessarily on changing the street.”

Green said people were still asking to sign the petition the morning they filed.

“They [signatures] are still rolling in. We are still collecting those in reserve in the event that they should come back and say we need more. The outpouring of support has been ridiculous.”

The City Clerk is now waiting on the Election Board to come back with the final number of valid signatures to move forward. In the meantime, Varner has sent communication to Mayor Sly James and the City Council to let them know that the petition has been filed.