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OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe city leaders are brainstorming a way to pay tribute to former mayor Michael Copeland. 

Copeland, Olathe’s longest serving mayor, died on Aug. 19, 2020, after suffering a medical emergency in his home. He was 58 years old.  

Tuesday, the Olathe City Council reviewed project proposals for honoring Mayor Copeland. Memorial concepts range in price from approximately $30,000 to $1 million. 

Michael E. Copeland Civic Center Park 

One recommendation from city staff is to rename Civic Center Park at 250 E. Santa Fe St. to the Michael E. Copeland Civic Center Park. The proposal also includes commissioning a piece of art from Paul Dorrell.

Dorrell worked with Copeland on public art plans many times during his time as mayor. The cost of new park signage and a new art sculpture is estimated at roughly $100,000. 

Art Installation at Indian Creek Library  

The council will consider a proposal to dedicate a piece of artwork in front of the Indian Creek Library for Michael E. Copeland Commissioned Public Art. According to city documents, the $100,000 art installation has already been budgeted for. The Olathe Seed is a 12-foot sculpture modeled after two halves of a seed shell meant to represent the city’s focus on the future. 

Michael E. Copeland Rooftop Terrace

According to city staff, Copeland wanted to build out rooftop terraces on signature community buildings like the Olathe Conference Center, the Olathe Community Center and the Indian Creek Library.

The current design of the Downtown Library includes a rooftop terrace, but the total cost of the addition does not fit within the project budget. 

City staff estimate it will cost roughly $600,000 to build a 3,500 square-foot terrace in memory of Copeland. 

Michael E. Copeland Trail 

Mayor Copeland supported the Park Sales Tax that created a 2.5 mile trail connecting Cedar Lake and Lake Olathe. Construction of the new trail is underway. The city council will consider naming a portion of the trail in honor of Copeland’s contribution to the trails system. Staff estimate the total cost of memorial signage and amenities at roughly $30,000. 

Michael E. Copeland Amphitheater

City staff say one of Copeland’s goals was to create an amphitheater at Stagecoach Park that could be a suitable host for a variety of community events. 

A concrete pad for the amphitheater already exists along the shore of Foxhead pond and has functional electricity. The lawn at Stagecoach Park slopes from the Community Center down toward the pad allowing the public to view the amphitheater. 

Construction of the stage and band shell, as well as new signage would cost approximately $1 million. Staff propose naming the amphitheater the Copeland Amphitheater at Stagecoach Park and organizing fundraising efforts to complete the project with private donations.