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Branson's Newest Water Tower is Now Home to Public Works Offices

Most people see water towers for what they are: a place to store water for people to use. But Branson city officials also saw their newest water tower as a place where people could work. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

Branson Public Works employees have moved into their new space: a one million gallon capacity water tower in downtown.

Larry VanGelder is Branson's director of public works.

The tower, which cost 2.4 million dollars to build about two years ago, is home to about 84 employees. A bowl, which stores water, sits on top of a column with a dome shape at the top. It's that column that contains 4 floors of office space. Van Gelder says it cost around 500,000 dollars to add floors to the base. That's considerably less than it would have cost to purchase land and construct a new building.

VanGelder's administrative assistant Loretta Bishop took me on a tour of the new water tower offices.

According to Bishop, city officials heard about people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area using the bases of water towers as office space. So, when they were planning a new, larger water tower for Downtown Branson, they decided to try that idea, too. Floors were constructed into the base and the space was finished later.

Debbie Redford, environmental specialist for the city of Branson has an office in the water tower. She says, as an environmentalist, she truly appreciates the fact that the city of Branson chose to use what would have been wasted space in the new water tower to house offices rather than building something new.

She hopes more cities will consider doing what Branson did. An advantage of being in a water tower in downtown Branson is the spectacular views from the 5th floor outside stair landing.

Redford, too, appreciates the views the tower offers.

And she doesn't worry about having one million gallons of water over her head as she works.

For KSMU News, I'm Michele Skalicky in downtown Branson.