OLATHE, Kan. — Plans are in the works to renovate a prominent greenspace in downtown Olathe.

During a committee of the whole meeting Thursday morning, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) got a first look at plans to revamp the Johnson County Square. 

The $2 million renovation project would upgrade the existing property between the Johnson County Administration building at the Johnson County District Courthouse. Johnson County Square enhancements would include things like a memorial plaza, a multipurpose stage, a playground and various art installations. 

“It’s a great community asset that will benefit the community for decades to come,” BOCC Chairman Ed Eilert said.  

Brad Clark with Treanor HL Architects said the memorial plaza portion of the project would include plaques highlighting the history of Johnson County and the city of Olathe. 

“This is envisioned as a place where we can gather components from around the county, such as cornerstones from the old courthouse, and locate them centrally in this kind of garden setting for people to come and stroll through,” Clark said. 

Clark mentioned partnering with the Johnson County Museum to create an interactive digital experience at the plaza. One example given was to use QR codes that allow visitors to scan the plaque to view images and get more information about the historic marker. 

Proposed site plan for the Johnson County Square

The memorial plaza would pull together existing features on the property including the Old Settlers memorial and a cornerstone from the former courthouse building. 

Assistant County Manager Joe Waters said the plaza could also be a good location for the county to place a time capsule for the new courthouse

Waters said a portion of the square walkway would also be dedicated to the cities of Johnson County. Concrete or stone inlays in the southern portion of the site would feature the name of each Johnson County city and the date of its incorporation.  

Project costs would be evenly split between the city of Olathe and Johnson County government, with each municipality paying approximately $1 million. Once the project is complete, Johnson County would be responsible for the maintenance of the property. 

“It’s not just a county square that’s going to be used by all of Johnson County, hopefully. It really is the heart of downtown Olathe. That is very, very important to us,” Olathe City Manager Michael Wilkes said.  

Waters said in the coming weeks, the BOCC will consider expanding the Common Consumption Area established by the Olathe City Council to include the Johnson County Square. If approved, that would allow residents to enjoy alcoholic drinks at the square during community events downtown. 

Waters said staff is scheduled to present plans for the county square to the Olathe City Council on May 17. The BOCC will take formal action on the proposed project later this year.

If the project is approved, work would begin on the downtown square in September with an anticipated opening date in May 2023.