March 17, 2013|by Ashley Reynolds, KY3 News |
BRANSON, Mo -- The city of Branson plans to tidy up the 100-year-old historic downtown.  Those working on the $5 million facelift project are getting feedback from folks on what upgrades should be made.
"I hope it continues to thrive, but I really don't want it to change that much because that to me is the essence of the historic downtown.  It's not like any other place," said Judy Dees with Mr. B's Ice Cream. People say they want more parking space and outdoor dining, better sidewalks for visitors, and better trolly stops.  Also on the wish list are more restrooms, trees and park benches. The city plans to update utilities and replace the 100-year-old waterlines and storm drains. "Our visitors and locals love what we are.  We are vibrant historic downtown that people don't see anymore.  We don't want to get away from what we are.  We just want to improve on what we are doing," said Steve Hartley, owner of Dick's 5 and 10. For 50 years, Dick's 5 and 10 has sold the knickknacks and been a mainstay in downtown.  They say it's all about keeping the past in the present. "You've got to do things to stay out there and attract customers.  We want to attract the younger customers who don't know what a historic downtown was," said Hartley.
The $5 million will be spent over the next few years.  It comes from a tourism tax.  Major construction projects are scheduled to take place in the winter so they do not disrupt businesses.