Lynne Hermansen
Thursday, August 4 design, financing and maintenance plans for the Johnson County Square greenspace project in downtown Olathe was approved.
The $2 million renovation project would upgrade the property between the Johnson County Administration building and the Johnson County District Courthouse.
The City of Olathe and the County will split the costs with each paying $1 million. The County will be responsible for the property maintenance.
Ed Eilert, county chair, said he was looking forward to the future investment being a positive investment.
“As I look around our county in our various cities who have identified and made major public improvements to central locations or other locations in the city,”he said. “It has been a very, very positive development for those communities.”

Graphic courtesy of Johnson County

The maintenance agreement passed 4 to 3 with commissioners Janee Hanzlick, Charlotte O’Hara and Michael Ashcraft dissenting.
Hanzlick said she was comfortable with the agreement but wanted more community involvement in funding the project.
“I think the plan is wonderful and beautiful and will be an asset to the community, but I would like to see us have a plan for community investment in this project rather than just having Olathe and the county providing for it,”she said. “It’s not even the amount, but it’s the idea of having community buy-in. I’d like to have more time to see a plan to get that community buy-in.”
The City of Olathe approved the maintenance agreement on August 2. They will be in charge of overseeing programming and events.
The 2022-2026 Capital Improvement Program fund was amended with a 4 to 3 vote to help support the project.
Ashcraft said he felt the funding could be better spent on other county needs.
“I think we have a tendency to opt to spend money just because we have it,”he said. “I’m sure that the plaza will be nice, and I’m sure it will be used.”
Ashcraft said he looks at the money and thinks what is the county doing for tax relief on fixed income households.
“For people that have demands that don’t have the flexibility of ever increasing valuations and property taxes,”he said.
Jeff Meyers, commissioner, said he anticipates additional funding will come from the community for continuous improvements.
“I believe that this project is going to have some continuous activity to it,”he said. “That’s where I believe the additional funds from the community can be involved and will be involved.”
A $196,500 no-bid contract with TreanorHL for the second phase project design passed 5 to 2. TreanorHL was a JE Dunn subcontractor for the first phase in 2021.
Ashcraft and O’Hara said they had concerns about the lack of competitive bidding.
O’Hara said the county shouldn’t be awarding contracts without competitive bids.
Ashcraft said he understood the expediency of using a familiar firm.