Nearly one-and-a-half years after entering into an agreement with a company seeking to bring a gondola to Branson, a group of city officials were given an update on the project Wednesday.
According to Melody Pettit, communications manager for the city, representatives from the American Gondola Company contacted the city around three months ago, telling staff the project was still on track. Wednesday, Pettit said, representatives from the company met with City Administrator Stan Dobbins, Director of Planning and Development Joel Hornickel and Head of Engineering/Public Works Keith Francis.
“Basically it was the gondola company giving us an update on where they are at in the process,” Pettit said.
The city entered into a memorandum of understanding with the company in December of 2016. According to Branson Tri-Lakes News archives, the agreement allowed AGI to move forward with plans for the project while receiving assurances from Branson that the city will not consider any competitors to AGI.
While the memorandum is still active, Pettit said, a formal agreement would need to be drawn up and submitted to the city to make any formal binding commitment.
According to Pettit, the company gave the city an updated alignment plan for the gondola and updated terminal locations.
“They talked about any potential issues they might have with zoning,” Pettit said. “Or who owns the land, is there any sort of problems there.”
According to Branson Tri-Lakes News archives, the cost of the project is $160-200 million, which will be privately funded. The gondola would employ 140 to 150 people.
Roughly 400 to 600 gondola cars would carry 3,000 passengers an hour each way; each car would have 8 to 10 passengers.
Speaking to the Branson Tri-Lakes News in 2016, AGI President Jeff Green said the gondola system would run from downtown Branson, along 76 Country Boulevard, to Silver Dollar City. A full trip on the gondola would take roughly 40 minutes.
The next step for the project, according to Pettit, would be for AGI to garner the support of both the business community and the residents of Branson who would be affected by the project, all while securing financing.
Additionally, Pettit said the Branson Board of Aldermen has expressed interest in hosting a public forum on the project.
“The board wants community input on this project,” Pettit said via email. “And to that end, a public meeting would be necessary to gage the public’s interest or support for this project as it would have a very broad footprint on the community.”
Green did not respond to a request for comment by press time.