Johnson County Square Project

Johnson County Square Ribbon Cutting and Tree Grove Dedication


Johnson County Government invites you to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the new Johnson County Square and dedication of the Rotary Tree Grove of the County Square from 1 to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9. The open space sits in the heart of Olathe, at the corner of Cherry and Santa Fe streets, across from the new Johnson County Courthouse.

The ceremony and dedication will be available for the public to view live-streamed on this page,, and Facebook Live. There will be a limited number of seats available for in-person attendance. Masking and social distancing will be required for all that attend in person.

Hear from local officials and county partners on the history of the square and how the community helped shape the design.

Event program:

  • Welcome and history of Johnson County Square - Chairman Ed Eilert
  • Johnson County Square in Olathe - John Bacon, City of Olathe Mayor
  • Construction - Jeff Blaesing, JE Dunn Construction
  • Public involvement of design - Carisa McMullen, Landworks Studio
  • Tree grove dedication - Vern Henricks and Dr. Rick Randolph, Rotary 
  • Closing remarks - Chairman Ed Eilert

Construction Updates

The partially demolished old courthouse building seen from far away with green trees in the foreground.

Johnson County’s new courthouse at the corner of Kansas Avenue and Santa Fe Street in downtown Olathe was completed in early January. The old courthouse is being demolished to create a new space known as Johnson County Square.

Exterior demolition of the old courthouse started in April. The demolition and debris removal should last through mid-August, then work will begin on the square. The backfill of the courthouse foundation is expected to be complete by mid-September, and the square is expected to be finished in early November.

Preferred Concept

The public weighed in on the preferred concept for the new Johnson County Square, the details of which were presented to the Board of County Commissioners at a public Committee of the Whole meeting in November.

Download this presentation to see renderings of the steering committee’s preferred concept, called an Activated Public Gathering Space. Presenters showed a base, intermediate and master plan option to the board and recommended the county start with the intermediate option and make funding decisions for additional elements associated with master plan option in the future. Watch the presentation to the board. It starts at 32:27.

On Jan. 7, the Public Building Commission approved funding for the intermediate option. Watch the Public Building Commission meeting.

A drawing of the proposed design elements for the Johnson County Square

The intermediate option includes establishing circulation, site lighting and landscaping. The gazebo will be removed. The existing water feature will remain. The square will initially include a community green, a curved walkway and a tree grove.

The existing water feature is designed to remain in place. The community green is a space where groups can gather. The space can be programmed for outdoor venues small and large or activities like concerts, yoga and small performances or can remain open for kite flying, yard games or informal gathering and picnics.

A curved and widened sidewalk will link the administration building and the courthouse and all of the park elements. The scoring pattern and colors will match the pavement on the courthouse property and include callouts for each of the cities that comprise Johnson County. The city names or logos could be imprinted in the order that they joined the county from oldest to newest.

The plan includes a tree grove on the northeast corner.

Public Engagement

Before a steering committee appointed by the Public Building Commission narrowed options for the County Square down to the preferred concept, the county gathered feedback from the public. The public engagement efforts included pop up meetings, open houses, a focus group and two online surveys.

Three pop-up meetings were held in September and October to gather feedback from the public on the project:

  • September 6 and 7, 2019 at Old Settlers Day
  • September 28, 2019 at the Overland Park Fall Festival
  • October 5, 2019 at the Olathe Community Center

Programming ideas were gathered at the Old Settlers Day pop-up meeting, which were later grouped into eight themes. Those themes were then voted upon at the Overland Park Fall Festival and Olathe Community Center pop-up meetings.

People providing feedback at gatherings about the proposed Johnson County Square

A total of 259 people voted for the following theme preferences:

  • Regional Attraction: 224
  • Gathering & Eating: 194 
  • Family Activities: 190 
  • Passive Recreation: 156 
  • Active recreation: 150 
  • Art, History & Storytelling: 86 
  • Event Planning & Wayfinding: 68 
  • Other: 5

The first survey, in October, asked about the most important features. More than 1,100 people responded. 

In November, 44 people attended an open house to look at the initial concept. 

The next survey, on the heels of the November open house, received 1,400 responses. It asked more detailed questions about how the site would layout for the concept. The last survey, in February, followed the last open house in January. That survey asked what should be done first.

A focus group was conducted with residents and business owners, school representatives and a member of the Sheriff’s Office helped establish the priorities.

Christina Hoxie, of Hoxie Collective, and Triveece Penelton, of Vireo, led the public engagement efforts.

Design Workshop

A design workshop was conducted with the steering committee, and then the steering committee was presented with three concepts, and they ultimately chose the plan for an Activated Public Gathering Space.

Johnson County Square Steering Committee Members reviewing documents

Steering Committee

As part of the planning process, a steering committee was formed for the Johnson County Square project. The committee provides feedback and guidance in addition to the public input.

Steering committee members include:

  • Joe Waters (Johnson County)
  • Danni Livingston (Johnson County)
  • Rhonda Pollard (Johnson County)
  • Susan Sherman (City of Olathe)
  • Nikki Johnston McDonald (1st District Appointee)
  • Nazyrah Rogers (2nd District Appointee)
  • Jeff Stewart (3rd District Appointee)
  • Tawn Nugent (4th District Appointee)
  • Ryan Nelson (5th District Appointee)
  • Jay Lang (6th District Appointee)
  • Robert Brogden (Chairman Appointee)

The steering committee also helped the design-build team brainstorm potential programming concepts. Landworks Studio developed the master plan concepts.

The concepts build on previous planning efforts, such as the Envision Olathe Downtown Plan (2018), Streetscape Master Plan and Downtown Design Guidelines (2003), Downtown Active Transportation Plan, Olathe’s Bike Share Implementation Strategy (2018), and more.

For more information, email Project Manager Kyle Heltne, Johnson County Facilities Management, or call him at 913-715-1173.

Follow the county and the city of Olathe on social media and use the #JoCoSquare hashtag.