County Update: County Chair Ed Eilert gives update on major capital improvement projects in the works

County Commission Chair Ed Eilert.

Each week we provide members of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners the opportunity to share an update on what issues are catching their attention. Today we have a column from County Commission Chair Ed Eilert.

For anyone who has driven to Santa Fe and Kansas Avenue in Olathe, you quickly notice the new Johnson County Courthouse under construction.

The topping-out ceremony for the seven-story facility was accomplished in August and the building is rapidly becoming enclosed for the winter work. Completion is scheduled for August 2020, followed by finishing interior work and testing of all technology and facility features. Daily use of the new courthouse is scheduled for January 2021.

In addition, a medical examiners facility was also approved for construction by voters. The building is located south of the Crime Lab in the county complex at Ridgeview Road and 119th Street in Olathe. Substantial completion is scheduled for first quarter 2020 and available for use in the second quarter.

Johnson County Library’s (JCL) long range plan is well underway with the opening of the Monticello branch in Shawnee last year and the recent location of the Lackman branch to a new library in the Lenexa City Center.

The Merriam City Council approved the JCL/Merriam Property Conveyance agreement on Sept. 9 to allow relocation of the Antioch branch. This new library will be located near the Merriam Civic Center and construction has been approved in the county’s 2020 budget.

A feasibility study is underway with the city of Prairie Village, the YMCA and JCL to explore future opportunities for shared facilities which would allow relocation of the Corinth branch.

The opening this summer of the Meadowbrook Park was completed only with the cooperation between the city of Prairie Village, the private developer and the Johnson County Park & Recreation District. The ability to preserve about 80 acres of open space and develop park facilities at no land acquisition cost to the county represented a unique partnership. The park has been very busy since the opening and will provide recreational opportunities for residents for decades to come.

Johnson County now has two universal play areas for children of all abilities to enjoy. One play area was added to the Stilwell Community Park; the newest one recently opened at Shawnee Mission Park. Both are excellent amenities to our park system.

A new observation tower is under construction at Kill Creek Park, which is located south of De Soto and should be completed this fall.

Design plans for the Cedar Niles Park at the west edge of Olathe are being completed with additions to the county trail system.

The Johnson County Wastewater Department’s rebuilding of the Tomahawk Creek facility in Leawood is well underway on time and on budget. Previously, about half of the wastewater flow to that plant was being treated in Kansas City. Due to the rising cost of that service, the Tomahawk plant is being rebuilt and doubling the size so all flow from the facility’s service area will be treated onsite by JCW.

The construction is about 30% completed, with 28,000 cubic yards of structural concrete having been poured out of 50,000 total cubic yards. Eight hundred drilled piers for building and pipe foundations are 95% complete with construction of underground utilities more than halfway done. Walls will start coming up on multiple structures in the next six months. The new facility will be completed by the end of 2022

The Tomahawk Creek plant will receive flow from Prairie Village, Leawood, Olathe, and Overland Park properties. Johnson County Wastewater operations are funded by charges for service and not by tax dollars.

These important community investments represent significant assets that benefit residents today and assure our future communities will remain great places to live, work and raise a family.