The city of Branson approved a bill on first reading for a $5.2 million contract amendment with the engineering firm overseeing the Spirit of 76 project.

    The bill came before the board Tuesday evening at a point in the project at which additional services are needed from the consulting engineering team to continue the project, the staff report stated.

    Branson Engineering and Public Works Director  David Miller said any of the work in the $5 million update could be halted at anytime with minimal expense to the city.

    The most important work listed in the contract are the final design plans and construction documents for Wildwood Drive to Pat Nash Drive. The finalized plans would prepare the project for bidding, which is expected in the fall of 2015. The maximum fee for final design plans is $3,087,635.

    The contract amendment also covers right-of-way negotiations on 76 Country Boulevard, a $1.2 million cost. The staff report states each negotiation  costs approximately $2,700 to $3,000.

    The bill also calls for an additional $446,865 for the formation of a benefit district, a crucial funding tool for the project.

    The gateway design work comes in at a $239,256 and the final plans to implement intelligent transportation and traffic management system is a $242,265 cost.

    The total cost of the work outlined in the bill is $5.2 million.

    Alderman Bob Simmons was concerned there was no mechanism in place for the city to call design work into play at a point to be determined compared with having all the work done at once, even to the city’s expense were it not to use any of the final designs on a portion of the next work.    

    “I would hate for us to pay a lot of design fees prior to that time, so we really need something that we would have a trigger saying we're starting on this now and we could make a final decision at that time whether we wanted to proceed with that or not, rather than us work on everything at once and have a lot of money involved in something that might or might not happen down the road,” Simmons said.

    Aldermen Rick Todd held an opposing opinion.

    “I want to see a concept,” Todd said. “Tell me what the idea is and get to that point and then let's have a discussion about that, and that's when the steps can kind of come into play.

    “I want us to be able to look at the concept and say that does what we want to do, what it says and what we want coming in, it's in a location we want it, so that's why it's important to have the action plan there."

    Alderwoman Cris Bohinc said she would like more questions answered before the second reading of the bill.

    "I am a little concerned with the cost of the formation of the benefit district just to be honest because I have been through a lot of that personally and this project — a lot of what we discussed over at the convention center — this project is really contingent upon us forming that and we have a lot of questions unanswered from that night that I had expressed concerned  with our administrator and mayor that I'd like to have answers to before we voted the second reading,” she said.

    The board and city staff agreed to coordinate with one another to have questions addressed at a study session before the second reading of the bill. The board passed the bill on first reading 5-0. Alderman Rick Davis out absent from the meeting.

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