RTC has task force on its side [UPDATED]Published 6:46am Tuesday, November 2, 2010 Updated 10:52am Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Another group of Fergus Falls residents will now be working on securing a use for the Regional Treatment Center: the Mayor’s RTC Task Force.
Approved by the city council at its Monday night meeting, the RTC Task Force is made up several influential Fergus Falls residents hand-picked by Mayor Hal Leland, who will serve as a non-voting, ex officio member. The primary project the group will be focusing on is the conversion of the main Kirkbride building into a disabled veterans family reintegration and therapeutic care command, which would essentially be a center where recently returning veterans could learn to reintegrate into civilian society.
“(The task force) is not anything other than support to the city administrator, city staff and the developers,” Leland told the council. The task force will seek to use the influences and connections of its members to aid the process of bringing the veterans center project to fruition – a complex task, as the city will have to jump through several federal hoops for the project to become a reality.
Leland also said the task force is focusing on the veterans center because of its viability and significance.
“It is probably the most important project to be brought forward (for the RTC) in a timely way, and it will probably be the last one before we have to address the (conditions) of the grant,” he said, referring to the state grant of $7.1 million that the city can use on development and demolition of the RTC property. The grant expires in April 2013, and members of city staff have in the past raised the possibility that the Kirkbride Tower could be demolished if a use for it has not been found before the grant deadline.
According to a statement read by Leland at the city council meeting, “There is no intention to duplicate or change any redevelopment plans by the City or developer. The task force supports the integrity of the time-sensitive RTC redevelopment grant … Our hope is that it can be utilized primarily for infrastructure and structural enhancement and that demolition will be a secondary consideration.
Membership on the task force will be as follows: Bernie Gamber, veterans service officer for Otter Tail County; Mark Helland, vice president of Otter Tail Power; Charlie Kampa, representative for the American Legion and VFW; Arlan Kangas, president of the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation; John MacFarlane, chairman of the board at Otter Tail Power; Richard Pemberton, local attorney; Steven Rufer, local attorney; John Skillingstad, administrator of the Minnesota Veterans home in Fergus Falls; Gary Spies, owner of Service Food; and Terry Stallman, the economic development officer with Otter Tail Power.
All of the members, Leland said, were chosen for their governmental, developmental and organizational influences and skills.