Exciting enhancements coming to Johnson County Square in 2023

Open green space and walking path outside of the County Administration Building

The New Year will include new enhancements to the popular and historic Johnson County Square in downtown Olathe.

On Thursday, Dec. 15, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners 4-3 to authorize an increase of $900,000 for the Johnson County Square Phase 2 project.

The funding will be added to $2 million initially authorized by the board on Aug. 4, 2022, for a revised total authorization to an amount not to exceed $2.9 million. Total cost for the project will be evenly split between Johnson County and the city of Olathe.

Johnson County Square Phase 2 plans include development of the historical plaza, multi-use platform, art garden play area and tree grove seating area. Assistant County Manager Joe Waters said the need for additional funding was not taken lightly and followed efforts to trim unanticipated higher bids, mainly from inflation, for the project.

“This project has experienced escalation as a result of industry inflation pressures, material availability and other market conditions,” Waters advised the board in a briefing sheet explaining the request for additional funding.

Working with the contractor and TreanorHL, project architect, county staff achieved more cost savings by “value engineering portions” of the Phase 2 plans, including modifications to the platform roof design and changes in construction materials without compromising the overall project.

On Thursday, the board approved the reallocation and expenditure of General Fund reserves (Countywide Support Fund that was established through federal funding) in an amount not to exceed $450,000 for partial funding. On Dec. 6, the Olathe City Council approved the city’s match, also $450,000, for the joint project.

Both the county and city have agreed to amend the Memorandum of Understanding, approved in August, to contribute up to $1,450,000 each in funding the second phase project. Under the agreement, Olathe will oversee programming for activities in the square, such as public events and concerts. Johnson County will be responsible for the maintenance of the property.

Enhancements to the square in phase 2 include:

  • The multi-purpose platform and an art garden play area at the northern end.
  • The historical plaza near the Children of the Trails Fountain at the southern end near the Johnson County Administration Building.
  • A new tree grove with seating at the southeast corner. An existing tree grove, donated by Johnson County Rotary Clubs, was installed at the northeast corner when the Johnson County Square was redesigned following demolition of the old courthouse and reopened at the end of 2021.

The large community green space will remain the centerpiece of the Johnson County Square for use by the public and scheduled concerts, events and other activities.

Construction of Johnson County Square Phase 2 is expected to start ASAP in early 2023, depending on the weather. It is hoped completion will occur in time for fall events, including the Old Settlers celebration in early September and the revival of the Olathe Arts Festival.

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