Although downtown Olathe is not a “hell hole,” as described by one Johnson County commissioner, it is a very neglected part of our city (9/26, Local, Mike Hendricks’ column, “Words sure to rile up Olatheans”).
No one should be surprised that the Chamber of Commerce is moving out of downtown or that the county is now looking at other sites to build. Even the city of Olathe itself has demonstrated no confidence in the future of downtown by failing to commit to building the proposed community center downtown.
No one comes downtown, because the streets are terrible and it looks ugly. There is no reason to come downtown unless you are involved in some way with law enforcement.
It is time to stop hiring consultants who can come up with nothing more than plans for parking garages and a little landscaping, and instead focus on bringing in businesses and activities that will draw residents downtown.
Stop giving tax incentives to big-box retailers and rich developers to tear up all of the green space around the city. Instead, give some incentives and support to small businesses to start up downtown and bring in some restaurants and activities to make downtown family-friendly.
John “Chip” Sitzman