Marlboro Community Coalition (MCC) is an association of residents, businesses and partners who volunteer their time to promote a healthy, sustainable and vibrant community. The Conservation Fund is proud to partner with MCC to fulfill the community’s vision for greenspace at 82ndo Street and Trost Avenue. We recently checked in with two of the MCC leaders, Diane Hershberger and Jeff Primos, to learn more about their organization.
Celebrating the opening of the Catalyst Center of the Marlborough Community Coalition in 2020. Photo by Ginny Moore.
Diane Hershberger Has lived in the neighborhood for 26 years and is one of the founding leaders of MCC. She is currently MCC’s Director of Healthy Community Programs.
“Together, we are Marlborough.” That is our motto at Marlboro Community Alliance. We use housing, greenspace and art as key revitalization approaches, and also advocate for equal treatment and resources.
In the past, each of the five historic neighborhoods that comprise the overall community of Marlborough had its own association; Some were originally built in the 1960s and 1970s to counter the practices of redlining in the city. These individual neighborhood groups had little activity or were disbanded entirely in the early 2000s, leaving Marlboro residents without a clear opportunity to voice their concerns and hopes for their community. .
That all changed in 2008, when the city’s plan to quietly close the Marlboro Community Center was challenged by a small group of concerned citizens from all five neighborhoods. I was part of the group that banded together to successfully prevent the closure of the Community Center, which was our only real public gathering place. Plus, we caught the attention of the city—in fact our first attention to the neighborhood. We officially incorporated our organization as the Marlborough Community Coalition in 2009.
Diane Hershberger (standing before left) joins members of the Marlborough Community Coalition Board of Directors celebrating a successful youth arts festival in June 2019. Photo courtesy Marlborough Community Coalition.
Over the past decade, that first achievement has opened doors to greater visibility and victory. The city has invested millions in storm water, road and sidewalk infrastructure in Marlborough. This includes green infrastructure at three sites that were originally designed to only address major flooding and water quality issues in the community, but with the help of the Marlborough Community Coalition and other partners, these sites are now critical to flooding control functions and much more.
The water retention system in the foreground is a visually appealing open space, while the playground is a wonderful place for children. Photo by Ivan LaBianca.
These green infrastructure sites – Rachel Morado Gardens, Arletta Park and 82ndo and Trost Site—largely with stormwater retention and providing a place to enjoy nature in a park-like setting, complete in terms of native plants, walking paths, and 82ndo and Trost Site, a playground with a zip-line. Connecting these greenspaces are more than two miles of sidewalks and walkways called Greenwalks that are part of the Marlborough Community Coalition’s initiative to bring livable streets to the community.
This map outlines the boundaries of the overall Marlboro community, five historic neighborhoods, as well as parks and greenspaces that are connected by greenwalks (shown, appropriately, in green).
Jeff Cousins Born and raised in Marlborough, and when he moved back with his family three years ago he saw many good things happening in their community. To connect more with the positive momentum, he joined MCC and is now the President of the organization.
Some of my best memories growing up in Marlboro are playing baseball in the parking lot around town. There wasn’t much room to park then; It was mainly a parking lot and you would play wherever you could find free space. It’s really nice to have a greenspace now where the kids can play. Hopefully adding all these green spaces and fixing other areas will generate interest and pride in our community and lead to a better quality of life for those who live here. Our big vision is to make it a walkable community that is healthy, vibrant and a place where you want to raise your family. plain and simple.
Kansas City 5th District Council women Rayna Parks-Shaw, Jeff Primos, and Jeff’s daughter Nima Primos at a neighborhood cleanup event.
Investment in this community has certainly been put to good use during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has demonstrated the benefits of playing and hanging out in nature and safe places. The walking trails and playground at Trost Greenspace have been used continuously by families and small groups during the pandemic. What a great thing during COVID, when people can’t go anywhere else, they can actually just walk around the neighborhood and go to these great parks. It was a really great experience to drive to Trost the other day and see the park full of kids zip-lining and games. I look at that space and really see that its impact will begin to make the community more family-oriented.
82. Children zooming in on the zipline on the playgroundndo and Trost. Photo by Ivan LaBianca.
Trost Greenspace’s location presents itself as a “front door” to the Marlborough community, and the Marlborough Community Coalition partnered conservation fund, Heartland Conservation Alliance, U-Haul, the City of Kansas City, and other local stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunity to make the best of it.
The partnership allowed us to truly make this dream a reality. Without the partners, we would not have been able to complete the project to the level we wanted it to be. For example, when we come across a roadblock in The Conservation Fund and partnering with them park with purpose program Helped us move forward and we were able to get this playground and make it a beautiful space with straight supports to add benches, trees and plants. It’s a feather in Marlborough’s hat that everyone loves. We appreciate the Conservation Fund’s long-standing commitment to the park and Marlborough.
working in partnership with Heartland Conservation Alliance, residents are being trained to maintain green infrastructure in the park. Plans to increase onsite programming are also in the works, which is important because programming brings both the benefits of the programs themselves, as well as generating positive activity to help prevent crime on border streets.
and thanks for the grant from health forward foundation, the coalition is reaching out to people living in about 1,100 homes along Greenwalk to develop “Block Ambassadors” who will keep an eye on things happening in their small part of the community.
Photo courtesy Marlboro Community Coalition.
I want the Coalition to continue to engage and engage with the community to bring in more passionate people who can become community advocacy leaders. One of the biggest things I’ve learned through this process is that if your community doesn’t have a seat at the table, it’s hard to get investment in your community from the city, or the government, or whatever. . So far, the Coalition has done a great job advocating and the city knows who we are. I am really proud to have been a part of some of these recent changes and efforts. We look forward to seeing what else we can continue to build.
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Green Stormwater Infrastructure
The city of Kansas City, Missouri is using green stormwater infrastructure technologies to manage storm water by mimicking natural processes that slow and absorb runoff. Learn why urban flooding is a problem, and green infrastructure solutions to combat it.
82. on greenspacendo Street and Trosto
Designed around a wetland basin created by the city to capture storm water, this greenspace now includes a community gathering space, fun and creative playground facilities, a walkway, recreational areas, and country gardens. All designed with extensive input from the Marlboro community.
Bringing a Kansas City Community Together Through Parks by Ginny Moore
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