For good reasons, the Johnson County Commission is moving toward replacing the cramped and outdated county courthouse in Olathe.
Ultimately, the commission could have solid reasons to support construction of a courthouse that would cost around $100 million. It would include modern, safe courtrooms for the public, law enforcement officials, judges and people on trial.
The final decision, though, still hasn’t been made. The commissioners in the next few weeks should try to obtain more details about the full expense of the courthouse, including land acquisition.
The panel needs to approve a solid, fiscally responsible project and finally end the many years of discussion over this matter.
The idea endorsed earlier this month is for a 28-room courthouse across the street from the existing building. That’s a superior approach to another proposal to keep the current, smaller courthouse and build a 12-courtroom addition. That plan would burden taxpayers with high maintenance costs for the current courthouse, parts of which are 64 years old.
Building a brand new courthouse would avoid the renovations needed to keep the old building to at least minimum standards needed to serve the public — such as trying to make it more accessible to the handicapped. The old structure also includes inefficient heating and cooling systems.
A new courthouse would be able to offer that access for the handicapped along with many other modern amenities, including up-to-date technological features while being more energy efficient.
Fast-growing Johnson County should have a more up-to-date courthouse that will better serve residents. If commission members can nail down a reasonable cost estimate for a new courthouse and provide compelling proof it’s better than any other renovation plan, they should end push ahead to build it.