Kansas City considering renaming Oak Street as Volker Boulevard

Kansas City considering renaming Oak Street as Volker Boulevard


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Just last month, Kansas City approved naming a number of streets after Martin Luther King Jr. But by renaming these streets after one civil rights icon, city leaders are hoping to not forget about another historical figure.

The current Volker Boulevard, along with Swope Parkway and Blue Parkway, will soon be renamed “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.”

So on Monday, the Kansas City Parks & Rec Board held its first community engagement meeting to discuss another new proposed street name change.

The board is considering renaming a section of Oak Street, stretching from 45th Street to 52nd Street, as Volker Boulevard.

William Volker was an entrepreneur and philanthropist born in 1859. He came to Kansas City in 1882 and quickly became known as one of the region’s richest men.

“Mr. Volker was not a guy that liked a lot of recognition, but he was recognized by our Park Board previously 70 plus years ago,” KC Parks Director Terry Rynard said. “We agree. We don’t want to get rid of the Volker name.”

But during Monday’s community engagement meeting, business owners in the South Plaza area highlighted the unintended impact the Oak Street proposal could have.

“If this goes through and we have to officially change the address, it is going to cause us to change every single business system we have, all of our collateral, our magazines, our catalogs, our online we presence. Our customers will have to do substantially the same,” said Jim Kissinger, a representative for Russell Stover Chocolates, located on Oak Street in the middle of the proposed change.

Kissinger and other business owners brought up the unintended impact on businesses, apartments, churches and homes along the way. He suggested an honorary street name change instead.

Another community engagement meeting is scheduled for Thursday. This meeting will be virtual.

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