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Branson's new police department becoming a reality

At its June 25, 2024, meeting, to a standing ovation, the Branson Board of Alderpersons unanimously approved the financing of the final $10,750,000 for the new Branson Police Department. The project's staff report and update were presented by Michael Woods, the Director of Public Works & Engineering, and Eric Schmitt, the Branson Police Chief.


The following, in Q & A format, is an interview the Branson Globe (BG) had with Michael Woods (MW) before the meeting regarding some of the significant details of the project:


BG: Can you give us a rough timeline of where we started, where we are and where we are going?

MW: In 2018, the city acquired land at 311 Forsythe Street intending to construct a new police station there. In July 2022, with the increases in construction costs attributed to COVID experienced throughout the construction industry, we decided to take an innovative “out of the box” approach with the White House Theatre when it, and its 11.8 acres of land, became available.


BG: What is happening to the land at the Forsythe Street location?

MW: It is up for sale.


BG: Will the new police station improve the police response times for calls?

MW: Yes. Its central locations will result in improved response time.


BG: Where is it located?

MW: On an 11.8-acre parcel of land at 2255 Gretna Road that includes a 66,500-square-foot building formerly the White House Theater.


BG: It’s unusual for a vacant theater to be used as a police station. What led to the decision to purchase the theater for modification and use as the new Branson Police Station?

MW: As part of the due diligence for property acquisition, a feasibility study was conducted to assess the building’s suitability for a new police department. Following the feasibility study, the city did a Spatial Needs [space] Assessment. After determining that the space was more than adequate for current and expected needs, the design process, incorporating the demolition of the building interior and its repurposing as a police department, began. The planning is done, the Board has approved financing, and construction will begin.


BG: What is the anticipated timeline for the construction and completion of the project?

MW: Construction will begin in July 2024 and take about 540 days to complete, with the police department moving in no later than the “end of the year 2025.”


BG: What is the total cost of the project?

MW: The total cost, including planning, construction and finish, is $15,792,002.


BG: What three items cost the most in total project costs?

MW: Construction costs, at $12,481,194, are the number one item, followed by professional services, at $1,754,506, and IT Technology, at $497,077.


BG: Of the 66,500 total square feet in the building, how many will be renovated and repurposed for the police department now?

MW: The total renovation area will cover 42,365 square feet of the 66,500 available.


BG: Specifically, from a day-to-day functional point of view, how will the space be allocated?

MW: The space in the three renovated levels will be as follows: The main level will have 13,003 square feet for police functions and temporary holding cells, a 2,090 square foot Sallyport, 3,063 square feet for SWAT and evidence, 243 square feet for bike storage, and 13,799 square feet for a lobby and locker rooms. The lower level will have 3,102 square feet for evidence, and the upper level will have 7,065 square feet for combined police and fire administration.


BG: What will happen with the remaining unrenovated space?

MW: The remaining space will be “white boxed” and used as a training area for the police and fire departments until a decision is made to use it for another purpose.


In subsequent weeks we will do a similar interview with Branson Police Chief Eric Schmitt relative to the functional aspects of the new facility and how it better helps police officers serve and protect our community.

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