Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park’s connection to the natural world reminds us that we are all born equal and free from negative social constructs. Like its namesake, this groundbreaking park design recognizes, celebrates, and supports the power of individual and collective activism in creating social change.
Join Corvallis Parks & Recreation and community stakeholders as we kick off a year-long effort to raise the remaining funds needed to make this dream a reality.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Enhancements at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park (MLK Park) have been designed with community members representing a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, interests, and abilities. As the design continues to take shape, the project team is dedicated to creating a space for community connections between people and the natural environment, centered on the Black experience to inspire activism, acceptance, and social change in alignment with Dr. King’s mission, right here in Corvallis.
Making a park worthy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy
Beginning with a master planning process in 2017, the community recognized that this 29-acre natural park was not living up to its potential, in its recreational amenities as well as its representation of the park’s namesake., Parks staff and consultants hosted community meetings to identify desired enhancements, which include improved pathways for accessibility, nature and water play opportunities for kids, an entry plaza in honor of Dr. King, a fenced dog park, repurposed central area for community gatherings, additional restrooms, and environmental restoration.
Still, the Master Plan lacked the context needed to appropriately commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other luminaries of color. To take the plan to the next level, in 2020, an Interpretive Design Committee was created and included prominent leaders of the Black, Latinx, and Native American communities in Corvallis. The product of that group was an Interpretative Plan that calls for an “un-sanitized” truth of Dr. King as a radical anti-racist who promoted justice and equity in the face of systemic oppression and violence. The committee identified areas of the park master plan that presented opportunities for artistic interpretation.
To bring it all together, another set of diverse community members, Project Ambassadors, was convened in 2021. The seven Project Ambassadors helped to create the vision of the visitor experience based upon the concepts derived from the Master Plan and the Interpretive Design Plan. Ambassadors continue to connect the project team to various networks and community affiliations to help bring awareness to the project and garner community support.
Art, science, and nature come together
A project of this size, scale, and significance requires professional experts to bring it to reality. The Corvallis Parks & Recreation Department has engaged landscape architect firm Juncus Studio to develop detailed designs and construction documents that turn these concepts and ideas into the third dimension. Engineers, surveyors, architects, and environmental scientists will be called upon to ensure the plan is constructed with care and concern for the land, safety, functionality, and accessibility.
The Arts Center has been brought on as a consultant for the artists and art selection process. A ‘Call for Artists’ will attract talented artists to create interactive and provocative artworks inspired by Dr. King. Interpretive displays will educate park visitors of the natural ecosystems throughout the park, indigenous freedom movements, and strengthen the relationship to place with the Kalapuya history.
The City of Corvallis Parks & Recreation Department stands behind the message of this park enhancement design as a place where people of all ethnicities, ages, and abilities feel welcome and safe, that it is designed by and for the people who face the most barriers today, and that advances the social change that is needed to ensure that Corvallis is a community that honors diversity and demonstrates acceptance and equity in public spaces.
Be part of the story
This is an ambitious project! Considering the current economic uncertainties in the construction industry, workforce and supply chain challenges, and the desire to ensure proper stewardship of the park beyond construction, we need your help! The total project funding target is $8.5 million, and we’re off to a great start! With a $4 million grant from the state and a Lead Donor gift of $2 million, coupled with dedicated funding from the Parks System Development Charges Fund of about $1 million, we’re closing in on that goal.
With the support of Friends of Corvallis Parks & Recreation, a non-profit volunteer organization, we cordially invite you to help make this dream a reality! Our fundraising mission is to ensure everybody, organization, or business can contribute. All donors, from $1 to $1,00,000, are equally appreciated and recognized.
Your help in spreading the word through your social media posts, community connections, service clubs, families, and friend networks is greatly appreciated.
Land acknowledgement: The City of Corvallis, OR is located within the traditional homelands of the Ampinefu Band of Kalapuya. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855 (Kalapuya etc. Treaty), Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to reservations in Western Oregon. Today, living descendants of these people are a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (https://www.grandronde.org) and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians (https://ctsi.nsn.us).