Public tours of the Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Olathe began July 11, and continue each month into early November.
The tours and informational presentations are being planned for the following reasons:
-to provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the existing courthouse, with a growing list of safety and security concerns and structural issues;
-the proposed construction of a new courthouse and coroner facility; and
-a quarter-cent, 10-year public safety sales tax question on the Nov. 8 general election ballot to fund both projects.
Representatives from Johnson County District Court and the Facilities Management Department will lead the tours and presentations. Representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Board of County Commissioners, County Managers Office, and Facilities Management Department will be available to answer questions from the public.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the problems that would be solved with a new courthouse, see for themselves some of the issues/concerns of the existing courthouse, receive information, ask questions, and provide input.
• Tuesday, July 26
• Monday, Aug. 15
• Tuesday, Aug. 23
• Tuesday, Sept. 27
• Monday, Oct. 3
• Tuesday, Oct. 18
• Tuesday, Nov. 1
Participants are asked to RSVP at (913) 715-3300.
The courthouse, which opened in 1952, has security and safety issues related to inmates being in close proximity to victims, families and jurors and the public; accessibility/ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) incompliance; serious infrastructure problems; overcrowded courtrooms and outdated technology.
More than 400,000 people visit the Johnson County Courthouse every year.
If the public safety sales tax is approved by Johnson County voters in November, a new 28-courtroom courthouse will be constructed north of the existing courthouse on Santa Fe and Cherry Street, and a new coroner facility will be built near the county’s Criminalistics Laboratory at 119th Street and Ridgeview Road in Olathe.
The new courthouse will cost approximately $182 million to construct and equip with completion of the project in four years. The project is expected to serve Johnson County’s judicial needs for the next 75 years.
Johnson County does not have its own coroner facility. The cost to build and equip the coroner’s facility is approximately $19 million. All autopsies for the county currently are done at a private facility in Kansas City, Kan., which the county pays to use.
Total cost for both projects is approximately $201 million.
The estimated cost to renovate the existing courthouse, construct a four-story addition to ease overcrowding and address future court needs, and resolve security/safety/ADA/technology issues is approximately $216 million over 13 years.
The cost to renovate and expand the existing courthouse is $34 million more than building a new courthouse for $182 million and more than three times longer for project completion which more than doubles the interest costs for the project. It does not include funding for a coroner’s facility.
More information about the tours/presentations at the existing courthouse, the new courthouse and coroner facility, and the proposed public safety sales tax is available at www.jocopublicsafety.org.