Score: “Birds and Trees,” 10 – “City of Branson, DBMA, and Downtown Restaurants,” 0

The other day as the Ole Seagull was sipping his coffee in a local restaurant, located in beautiful historic downtown Branson, he noticed one of the owners picking something up off the floor that looked like a bird feather. When asked about it, the owner said that they are constantly sweeping the restaurant and picking up feathers blowing in the door because of bird activity in the Bradford Pear tree located not ten feet from their front door. She also pointed out that when “bird droppings” from downtown trees are bad that people walk through them and then track them, not only into their restaurant but into other businesses and restaurants in the downtown area.

As one makes their choice of where to eat, how appetizing is it to think of a feather from a “birds tail section” or bird dung dust either drifting across your table before or as you are eating? Flitting across serving and other food preparation surfaces within the restaurant? Think of how ones culinary experience would be enhanced as a bird feather gently drifts down and settles in the middle of the yolk of your sunny side up eggs.

The Ole Seagull asked why they couldn’t do something to get the tree taken down. One of the owners said, “We have been trying but we are getting the runaround from the City and DBMA (Downtown Branson Main Street Association).” As a way of explanation she gave the Ole Seagull two letters to read. The first was dated August 11 and sent Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to Don. D. Stephens, director of planning and development for the City of Branson.

It very concisely and politely asked Stephens to confirm, within seven days, four specific items, “1) That your office intends to resolve the matter within a reasonable amount of time and what that timeframe is; 2) That we will be notified in a timely manner when a resolution is reached; 3) Your assurances that there are no administrative steps or procedures required by us to facilitate the removal of the tree ) i.e. appeals, variance requests, hearings, etc.); and 4) Which ordinance specifically prevents the removal of the tree.” Stephens responded on August 24.

As the Ole Seagull read Stephen’s reply he was astounded to read “Because the landscaping in downtown Branson was an area project, your concerns should be directed to the Downtown Branson Main Street Association (DBMA)” and the verbiage “The ultimate solution to your concerns falls under the immediate discretion of DBMA.” Since when has DBMA been a part of city government? Health issues aside, why would the director of Branson planning and development and the City of Branson not take the trouble to immediately consider the concerns of one of their newest businesses, purchased in the fall of 2003, and help them resolve the issue?

The Ole Seagull talked with Gayla Roten, the director of DBMA, who said words to the effect that “DBMA did work with the City on a downtown improvement project years ago and is seeking to work with them currently on a new ‘Cityscape Project’ to tie the downtown in with the Branson Landing but that DBMA has no direct control over the trees. They are city owned, maintained, and located on city property controlled by the city.” She also pointed out that DBMA was fined by the city once because they trimmed them.

So now the circle is completed, the city to DBMA and DBMA back to the city with a local business, having a business and potential health problem in the middle. Do we all sit around, hold hands, and sing “kumbaya” or is someone going to step up and address the problem?

To an Ole Seagull the answer is as simple as the city permitting those businesses desiring the removal of the trees, that the city mistakenly planted about 12 years ago, to request their immediate removal by the City. Hopefully before any potential health problem manifests itself in a downtown restaurant. It might also be appropriate to incorporate the lessons that should have been learned from the previous project into the planning for the new Cityscape Project currently under consideration. Hum, another thought just came to mind. With Stephen’s letter in hand, why not just let the wood chips fly where they may?

Gary Groman, a.k.a. “The Ole Seagull,” is an independent columnist and the editor of the Branson Courier. He may be reached by clicking here or by calling 417-339-4000. (Sap)

About Gary Groman aka The Ole Seagull

Editor of The Branson Courier
This entry was posted in Editorials. Bookmark the permalink.