Olathe's 'Block 29' residents upset by plan for new Johnson Coun - KCTV5

Olathe's 'Block 29' residents upset by plan for new Johnson County courthouse

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Mary Ann Verhulst says her and her husband bought the house in 1991 and put a lot of work into it. (KCTV5) Mary Ann Verhulst says her and her husband bought the house in 1991 and put a lot of work into it. (KCTV5)
OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -

A new Johnson County courthouse is coming to downtown Olathe, KS, but many living in the area are upset about the county's plans.

Olathe city officials say the courthouse is out of date.

That’s why voters approved $4.3 million to fund a new courthouse and coroner’s facility.

The new courthouse will address American Disabilities Act concerns and improve safety and security.

Officials want to build the new facility in an area known as block 29.

The county wants to buy the area’s homes to make room for a new courthouse and its parking lot.

Currently, there are 14 homes in the area, and the people living there don’t want to move.

The county commissioner says they need to buy the block of homes to create nearly 300 parking spaces that will be lost during reconstruction.

Mary Ann Verhulst owns a home in block 29 and has been renting it out for 26 years. She says her and her husband bought the 110-year-old house in 1991 and put a lot of work into it.

Now, she says that work feels like it was for nothing.

“We spent a lot of money in October, not realizing this might happen,” Verhulst said. “New windows, new appliances, refurbished floors, a lot of money. Now you feel kind of like you worked for nothing.”

Verhulst says she’s disappointed with the county’s plans.  

"I thought, well, maybe some day we'll be able to fix up inside for attorney's offices or something. I didn't envision a parking lot," she said.

Verhulst says her tenants are now looking for a new place to live.

“I would say, for my husband, it's emotional, it's like giving away a child,” she added. “He spent a lot of months here. His blood sweat and tears.”

Negotiations between the county and property owners have started. It will take about four years for the new courthouse to be completed.

County officials say more than half the homeowners have come to terms with the county. 

City officials say they are working on updating their downtown master plan and say it’s important that the courthouse remains downtown. They also say they want to stay in good standing with neighbors to those who live downtown.

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