From the Fergus Falls Daily Journal December 8th, 2006
Fergus Falls, Minnesota Friday, December 08, 2006
City, state to share RTC costs
By Susan M.A. Larson
At virtually no risk to the taxpayers, the Fergus Falls City Council voted unanimously to take over five buildings on the Regional Treatment Center campus.
The level of risk was in question with the power to tip the scale in either direction. City Administrator Mark Sievert came to a special council meeting Thursday with an answer.
The state has agreed to heat the buildings while they are being evaluated. The city is responsible for security and insurance.
“I estimated if a city employee spent, say, two hours a day looking in on the buildings and making sure everything was all right, at seven days a week at the average rate of pay, it would be about $300 a week,” Sievert said.
The Friends of the Kirkbride came forward Thursday and volunteered to do the security patrol, since it already gives campus tours. The city will discuss the offer with the group.
“For property insurance on the buildings,” Sievert said, “the premium would be $3,000 for 2007, with a $10,000 deductible.”
Wayne Waslaski, Minnesota Department of Administration, assured the city that $3 million has been secured to use for abatement of the RTC. Funds for paying off the incinerator bonds and demolition of the incinerator will be forthcoming as well.
“We can get it done and not lose any state money, correct?” Council Member Jim Fish asked.
“That’s correct,” Waslaski said.
“The risk is not there, or at least manageable,” City Attorney Rolf Nycklemoe said. “The city is going into this with its eyes open.”
“I, too, am comfortable with this,” Council Member/Acting Mayor Rick Wilson said. “It’s always been my position not to put the taxpayers at risk.”
“As long as the city is going to be made whole,” Fish said, “I say go ahead and go with the process. It’s a very good deal for the city and everyone else.”
If the developers don’t take over the buildings by May 7, they will be demolished, Sievert said. The state was going to seek demolition bids this month. Demolition would likely not begin until 2007.
Letters of intent were submitted by Jeff Schlossman Investments and Hawthorne Development, both of Fargo. Hawthorne is interested in the nurses cottage for multi-unit housing/condominiums. Schlossman is interested in the buildings formerly occupied by the Department of Human Services, the Fergus Falls School District, Early Childhood Family Education and Catholic Charities for use as office buildings.
The fate of the memorial building, slated for demolition, was questioned by Lois Josefson, a member of the Fergus Falls Historical Preservation Commission. Neither developer expressed an interest in it.
“We can put it as a deduct alternate on the list,” Waslaski said. “That means we can wait until the last minute” to demolish it.
The council’s decision was heralded as good news by the Friends of the Kirkbride, a group that has led the preservation fight for the campus.
“The Friends of the Kirkbride were encouraged that the council took the action to take title to the outlying buildings,” Friends Chairperson Maxine Schmidt said following the meeting. “This is only the first step in the process, but exciting things are ahead.”
“This is the beginning of what could be wonderful economic development for the people of Fergus Falls,” Josefson said.