Effort Underway to Change Modesto’s Mellis Park to Martin Luther King Jr. Park

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MODESTO -- An effort in Modesto is underway to change the name of Mellis Park to Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Sebastian Jones says for the last decade, he's wanted the change. This year, Jones says, his effort has picked up steam because he's getting old and is tired of fighting for the change.

The park sits at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and California Avenue, and includes the King-Kennedy Memorial Center. Jones says many in the community already refer to it as Martin Luther King Park.

"I always thought this park was named Dr. Martin Luther King until one day someone told me, 'Meet me at Mellis Park.' I said, 'Where’s Mellis?'" Jones said.

Jones teamed up with another community member to create an online petition. They will bring signatures to City Council on Tuesday.

"When we go on to Google Maps and we go to search for Martin Luther King Park, it doesn’t show up," Amanda Duran said. "This will reduce confusion and this could be an outstanding birthday gift to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

City officials say when someone comes forward about a possible name change, they like to get community feedback. Now, the city is looking into the history of Mellis Park, whether the land was donated and if there are any legal issues with any possible name change.

"We do want to make sure we do our due diligence and are careful about gathering information regarding the history of the naming of the park, if there are any restrictions on naming of the park, and what can we as the city council can do," City Council member Tony Madrigal said.

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