In the 1930s, the Marlborough community in south-central Kansas City, Missouri, was booming. New housing developments, schools and a streetcar line to downtown made it a desirable place to settle down. But just 20 years later, Marlborough would suffer significant decline, spurred by segregation laws that divided the area, disadvantaging the predominately African-American neighborhoods east of Troost Avenue. Marlborough has been slow to recover ever since, and poor rental housing stock, trash dumping, crime and lack of a strong business base have distressed the community.

Marlborough has seen positive progress over the past decade. The City of Kansas City, Missouri, has invested close to $40 million in storm water, street and sidewalk infrastructure in Marlborough, including raingardens, bioswales and large-scale storm water detention facilities that will address major flooding and water quality issues in the community.

And in 2013, the Marlborough Community Coalition completed the Catalyst Plan, which identifies and prioritizes improvements for the five neighborhoods in Marlborough and lays out an action plan for implementation. The Catalyst Plan has stimulated community revitalization through additional public green space, a new, inclusive neighborhood housing plan and a strong focus on arts and culture that defines Marlborough as a vibrant place to live, work and play.


Building on the city’s infrastructure investments and the Marlborough Community Coalition’s Catalyst Plan, The Conservation Fund and U-Haul partnered with Heartland Conservation Alliance, the Marlborough Community Coalition, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and other local stakeholders to develop public green space around a wetland basin built by the city — which captures 12 million gallons of stormwater, keeping it off streets and out of basements in Marlborough. This 10-acre green space includes a community gathering space, fun and creative playground amenities, a walking trail, recreational areas and native gardens, all designed with extensive input from the Marlborough community. Together with our partners, our efforts also provided workforce training opportunities for residents and will generate additional economic investment within walking distance from the green space.


We believe green spaces are the cornerstones of vibrant urban communities. In Marlborough, green spaces offer safer places for children to play, cleaner air and water, better resilience to floods, improved public health and opportunities for green jobs. Equally important, a revitalized Marlborough has the potential to unite people of all walks of life, demonstrating it can heal from the wounds of the past.


credit: Ivan LaBianca


Heartland Conservation Alliance
Marlborough Community Coalition
KC Water
Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department
Down to Earth Services
StoneLion Puppet Theatre
Charlotte Street Foundation




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