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Branson Tiny Homes project gets additional city support

Elevate Branson’s Tiny Homes project, the Elevate Branson Community Village Project (EBCV), is a step closer to becoming a reality as the result of a 6 to 0 vote of the Branson Board of Aldermen at its May 28, 2024, meeting approving Ordinance 6447. It authorizes the mayor to sign a budget amendment for the public infrastructure improvement for the EBCV “and all documents related thereto.” This includes a request for an increased grant from the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). The reason for this request is the cost increases that have occurred between the date the project started and now.


The written staff report for the agenda item said, “The City of Branson supported the intent to seek funding through the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery Program by Resolution in October 2020 for the Public Infrastructure Improvements for the Elevate Branson Community Village project in Branson.


“In 2021, the City of Branson applied for a CDBG grant on behalf of Elevate Branson to construct the Elevate Community Village project. In May 2021, the City of Branson accepted grant funding from the Missouri Department of Economic Development Block Grant (CDBG-DR) program for the Elevate Branson Community Village project in the amount of $1,940,000.


“Design of the public infrastructure has been completed and sealed bids were opened publicly on April 30, 2024. One qualified bid was received from Emery Sapp & Sons in the amount of $3,199,868.85. Additional funding will be necessary for the completion of the public infrastructure project as the sole bid received for the project was higher than the budgeted grant award. This budget amendment is allowing Elevate Branson Community Village to apply to CDBG for additional grant funds to construct the public infrastructure.”


After a brief introduction by Public Works/Engineering Director Michael Woods, Bryan Stallings, the Director of Elevate Branson, made the in-meeting presentation of the staff report to the Board, and a “full house” in attendance. His PowerPoint presentation followed a chronological order, explaining each step of the process. He illustrated the reasons behind the project’s construction delays and cost increase, such as delays because of environmental concerns about bats hibernating in trees and the trees removal, required Native American Culture studies, and increased costs because of Covid. The issues with the bats and Native American Culture studies came into play again when additional land had to be purchased to meet environmental concerns.


During his presentation, Stallings alluded to a previous meeting where the alderman had turned down a request by Elevate Branson for another project. He stated his belief that the alderman did so because they didn’t understand the process. Alderman Ralph LeBlanc immediately responded, saying that the aldermen understood the process and, in fact, approved multiple requests for the same thing that Elevate Branson wanted that night. He noted that Elevate Branson’s rejection was because of the lack of information presented to the Board that night by Stallings. LeBlanc pointed out that if his presentation at that meeting had been like the one at this meeting, there might have been a different result. Stallings admitted he was not prepared and explained his reasons. However, he assured the Board that he had prepared for this time and welcomed their questions.


Because of time issues involved with the current bids, the Board had a rare Second Reading, and it, too, passed with a 6 to 0 vote.

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