OLATHE, KS (KCTV)
After two years of meetings, planning and designing, Johnson County, KS, finally broke ground on a new courthouse.
Thursday morning, officials broke ground on the $193 million project.
The new courthouse will be located across Santa Fe Street, directly north of the existing courthouse and west of Olathe City Hall.
The hefty price tag for the building will be repaid by a 10-year, quarter-cent public safety sales tax.
The new building will be seven stories tall with 28 courtrooms and enough room to expand to 36 courtrooms if needed.
Officials say the old courthouse, built in the 1950s, was not only outdated but posed safety concerns for those using it.
“The mechanical systems, the plumbing systems, the heating, the cooling, the exterior skin of the building. Those things are needing significant investment to keep it going and going forward,” Assistant Johnson County Manager Joe Waters said.
The new building will be ADA compliant, something the old building could not provide, due to its age.
“This courthouse is being designed with the maximum focus on the services the public needs when the public walks in the door,” Waters said. “Whether you’re coming for divorce proceedings or adoption proceedings or just filing necessary court paperwork.”
The new courthouse will also provide new security features and a full floor for the District Attorney’s office.
“400,000 people a year come to this building and so it serves the entire community and I think that’s what’s a very important part of this,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said.
“That is the most exciting things about this. To have the experience of people coming into our courthouse, being able to do their business effectively, safely, quickly, expeditiously,” Waters said.
Howe says, with the new technology, the days of hauling televisions down the hall will be over.
“Yeah, we call it the road show because we have TV’s on carts that we bring into the courtroom and we have cords everywhere with duct tape. That how we tried to do business each and every day,” Howe said.
County officials hope to have the courthouse ready for business in early 2021.
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