Second phase of county square begins in the fall

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

Visitors to downtown Olathe will be able to enjoy future enhancements at the Johnson County Square thanks to separate actions by the Board of County Commissioners and the city of Olathe for Phase Two improvements.

The project includes upgrading the public square, located between the Johnson County Administration Building and the Johnson County Courthouse, with a multipurpose platform, a Memorial Plaza, an art garden play area and tree grove seating.

“The Johnson County Square required community involvement with public meetings in helping to design the square. We are very appreciative of that important public input,” said Johnson County Chairman of the BOCC Ed Eilert. “We also appreciate the partnership with the city of Olathe in making the Johnson County Square a community asset for all to enjoy now and in the future.”

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approved a maintenance, management and use agreement with the City of Olathe and adjoining outdoor recreational space for public events. 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. The Olathe City Council approved the agreement on Aug. 2.

The Board also authorized an amendment of $2 million to the county’s Capital Improvement Program to include the Phase 2 capital project and reallocation and expenditure of $1 million of Countywide Support Funds for the county’s portion to finance the improvements to the public square. As a joint project, Olathe is also contributing $1 million.

Other approvals involved a contract with TreanorHL to complete the design of the Phase 2 project; regulations regarding the use of the Johnson County Square and adjacent property; and a short list of possible construction companies for the Johnson County Square Phase 2.

“We want to start work shortly after Old Settlers Days this year with plans to ensure the square opening by May 2023,” Assistant Johnson County Manager Joe Waters said.

The Old Settlers Days celebration ends Sept. 10.

Final design details for Johnson County Square Phase 2 are still in the works by TreanorHL, but current plans include a multipurpose stage with possible solar lighting and an art garden play area will be located at the northern end of the square.

The Memorial Plaza will be located near the Children of the Trails Fountain at the southern end of the square near the Administration Building with a redesigned entrance from Kansas Avenue. Plans include informational and educational plaques, highlighting the history of Johnson County and the city of Olathe.

The plaza also will be the new location for six existing historical structures (some or all) in the Johnson County Square, including two time capsules, Santa Fe Trail monument, listing of Old Settlers Association presidents, cornerstone of the county’s second courthouse and along, flat granite stone from the third courthouse that was demolished last year.

The county also plans to install a new time capsule at the Memorial Plaza to commemorate the opening of the new courthouse and redesigned Johnson County Square. Planning for and preparing of the new time capsule will be completed during the Phase 2 construction.

Also near the Memorial Plaza and the fountain will be a space dedicated to the cities of Johnson County. The history of the community will be connected to the names of each city in Johnson County and their year of incorporation, all memorialized in stone/concrete inlays.

Another tree grove with seating is also proposed at the southern end of the square close to Cherry Street.

Phase One of the project included a tree grove, which was donated by Johnson County Rotary Clubs, and seating, which were installed by the county near the northwest corner of the square.