At a recent Branson Board of Aldermen Work Session, two local businessmen, Dan Ruda and Larry Schmidt, made a proposal to install a two level, fully restored antique carousel at the main entrance of Branson Landing (Landing) in the Town Square. Among others, two of the rationale given for the carousel is they think the Landing needs a family attraction and that it might increase the time families would spend at the Landing.
An Abraham Lincoln quote comes to mind, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” The Ole Seagull’s initial reaction to the specific proposal is, “This is nuts!”
At the outset, well almost the outset, an Ole Seagull would point out that he has a sincere appreciation for the Landing, the way it is operated, and what it does for Branson. But, as he has said from the very beginning, the Landing is not Branson; it is here because of Branson. Were it not for the millions of visitors who were already coming to Branson there would have been no Branson Landing in the first place.
That’s the Branson that built Branson, without the direct investment of taxpayer money, the one that has to compete against developments like Branson Landing, built and partially maintained with tax payer money. Ironically, although the city has probably spent millions and is on the hook for a hundred million plus dollars or more, even in these tight times, it not only doesn’t receive city sales tax revenue from the Landing, but has to pay over $400,000 per year for the maintenance of the fountains and common areas.
It’s almost like the Landing is more important to the future of Branson than the very shows, attractions, and businesses that built Branson. Wasn’t one of the big initial selling points of the Landing the new demographic it would bring and the hundreds of thousands of new visitors?
As Branson Landing was being planned and built, the trite little saying, “A rising tide raises all ships” was bantered about. Unless things have changed over the last few months Branson Landings retail sales are doing just fine and were trending up. Are the rest of Branson’s “ships” rising on the tide? Regardless of that answer, is increasing of the time families spend at Branson Landing going to help raise those same ships from their current levels?
The city of Branson has precious little control over Branson Landing. When it leased it to HCW for the next nine or so decades it was left with very little control over what happens there except, if current news reports are right, what happens on the Town Square. Why would the city want to establish the precedent of letting private businesses encroach, even more than they have in the past, on the one area they might have any direct control over, the Town Square?
In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, the Town Square was specifically designed to be as it is for a reason. One of those reasons wasn’t so that a carousel or other revue producing entity could occupy large chunks of it. If the city grabs the carousel’s brass ring what’s next, camel rides around the square?