An Update on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. in Kinston

About the Author

CED Program Interns & Students

Adam Parker is a Masters in Public Administration alumnus at UNC Chapel Hill. Parker is entering UNC Law in the fall and currently works with Lenoir County, North Carolina.

UNC students performed excellent work over the past year with the Martin Luther King corridor. A UNC MBA STAR team began the process last spring, while City and Regional Planning students filed a thorough report and received GoldenLeaf funding to begin construction on the project. This post details recent developments as the project nears its groundbreaking.

The partnership between the Community Campus Partnership (CCP) and the City of Kinston has become strong over the past year and a half, especially in the redevelopment of the Martin Luther King (NC Highway 11) corridor in eastern Kinston. CCP’s efforts over the past year helped convince the GoldenLeaf foundation to invest over $500,000 in streetscaping impvovements as part of their Community Assistance Initiative. These improvements include lighting upgrades, a new fence and mural in front of J.H. Sampson school, crosswalks, pedestrian signage, and sidewalk construction. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is installing a traffic circle at the intersection of King St. and Martin Luther King.

In early May, Community Campus Partnership staff attended several meetings discussing the developments along the Martin Luther King corridor in Kinston. Martin Luther King is also known as Highway 11 and is a high traffic corridor that connects Kinston to Greenville, NC. From these meetings several action items were identified to help move the process along on the Martin Luther King corridor.

  • Hold a follow-up community meeting. In the fall, the Department of City and Regional Planning held a community meeting to identify the needs of residents who have an interest in the corridor. A large number of residents attended the meeting, and City Manager Scott Stevens wanted to reconvene the group to notify them of progress and to receive feedback on the final GoldenLeaf proposal. Tentatively, this meeting will occur on June 23rd, 2010.
  • Help coordinate the “Creating Livable Communities Through Public Involvement” workshop. This one-day workshop was part of the GoldenLeaf application, and will be timed to open in conjunction with the traffic circle in the fall (likely September). The reasoning for holding the workshop at this time was the anticipated excitement around the traffic circle and the likelihood to increase attendance. When NCDOT finalizes the groundbreaking of the traffic circle, a more finalized date will be set (although a number of dates have been identified and contact has already been made with workshop organizers).
  • Help facilitate development of new fencing and a mural at the Sampson School. Sampson school is located prominently along Martin Luther King, and also houses the Boys and Girls club. Currently, Sampson has a chain-link fence, which is set to be replaced with a cast-iron fence. In addition, a mural was commissioned to be placed at the school. In discussions with Sandy Landis, Director of the Kinston Community Council for the Arts (KCCA), a integrated fence and mural design was suggested. This type of design would have segments of alternating segments of rod-iron fence and mural art panels. This type of design is anticipated to last longer and is already being undertaken outside the KCCA in response to a realignment of downtown train tracks. Contact was also made with Sampson School Principal Anita Sykes, who sounded enthusiastic about the project. The ideas for mural subjects needs to be presented to the arts council, but may also be able to connect to the Eastern North Carolina African American Music Trail. Kinston was home to many great jazz and blues musicians, including Maceo Parker, and many lived in this part of the town. To connect the public art to the history of the place would only add an additional element of community pride coming from this project.

Many of the other items in the grant, such as sidewalk construction, will either be performed by Kinston public services or included in a bidding process with construction on Heritage Street in Kinston. Heritage Street is the site of numerous new downtown businesses, including Mother Earth Brewing and the Chef and the Farmer.

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