It’s a little disappointing that Johnson County hasn’t spent more time considering parking requirements for the proposed new courthouse in Olathe. The new facility would add an additional five courtrooms, bringing the total to 28.
Although the proposed quarter center sales tax is on the November ballot, and a location directly north of the current site has already been determined, county staff says accessible parking, and how to deal with increased pedestrian traffic at Santa Fe and Kansas, will be determined during the project design phase.
While we understand the tax has to pass before the building can be built, a lot of money has gone into studies and consultants prioritizing needs and wants for the new courthouse and coroner’s facility. We’re told one of the basic needs is handicapped accessibility, but the proposed new site doesn’t seem to take those with mobility issues into consideration when parking.
County staff says a study conducted last winter indicates parking in downtown Olathe is currently adequate, and no additional parking will be required. If the tax is approved, the current courthouse would be demolished for a “green space.”
It’s estimated about 400,000 people visit the courthouse annually, and anyone who has been called as a juror, or has had to visit the county clerk’s office, would probably testify as to how difficult it is to find suitable parking in downtown Olathe.
As it is, visitors can use the parking garage off Loula, and that will continue. However whereas courthouse visitors now only have to cross one street ; the new location will lengthen that trek by a block, and visitors will have to cross two streets– one of which is Santa Fe.
Santa Fe is busy; especially when crossover trains inch thru, and cars jostle and make a quick turn onto Kansas, so they can use the Spruce street underpass – which is also where pedestrians will have to cross from the west parking lot.
We’re sure adequate handicapped spots will be set aside, but that doesn’t address concerns regarding street crossings. Nor does it put accessible parking within reach of an aging population and those with mobility issues.
Staff says public meetings will be held if the tax passes. We believe parking issues should have been addressed from the onset, but it’s hoped they will be given adequate attention during the design phase.