Task force looking at many optionsPublished 11:16am Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The first meeting of the RTC marketing task force saw the group still trying to define itself, but members did establish at least three objectives to move forward with: pursue multiple options, communicate clearly and move quickly.
The latter objective was the one talked about most by the task force, created by the Fergus Falls City Council to find and recommend the best entity to market the Regional Treatment Center to potential developers even as city staff prepare demolition plans. By the end of the meeting, some task force members had agreed to contact several large marketers with experience in finding developers for expensive, wide-ranging projects.
The urgency was accelerated by uncertainty. The council hasn’t yet set clear parameters on the task force’s constraints.
“We haven’t gotten a lot of direction exactly on what kind of timeline we have or what kind of budget we have,” said Chris Schuelke, executive director of the Otter Tail County Historical Society.
Council Alderman Pat Connelly is a member of the task force, but he did not offer clear cut fiscal or time-related limits. While he was willing to work with the task force and give perspective on the council, he said the task force will need to make a clear case for why the council should accept their recommendations.
Along with the need for speedy action, task force members agreed that multiple options should be pursued. Multiple marketers will be considered at the same time (many of them suggested by Tim Hunt, who said that firms with experience marketing projects worth as much as $200 million should be contacted), and a separate arm of the task force will look at obtaining assistance on the project from the state Legislature – whether that assistance means money for development costs or an additional extension of the city’s demolition grant deadline remains to be seen. Since time is a factor, the group agreed that it couldn’t afford to be in exclusive talks with just one party at a time, something that Anthony Hicks said has already burned up years in the RTC development process.
“When (Campus Development Group) was there, somebody wanted to make a film and it was like, ‘No, you can’t do that because that might upset these people,’” he said. “It (should be) like, ‘Screw these people; whoever gets to the gate first is the winner.’”
While the task force members focused on marketing and legislative goals do research and make contacts, other members will focus on community engagement, letting residents know what the task force is up to and clearly communicate its goals.
The task force will hold its next full meeting at the Otter Tail County Historical Museum at 7 a.m. on Monday, June 4, allowing them to discuss marketers before the city council meeting that evening. Task force Chairman Tim Litt pointed out that the group must communicate with the council to clearly define what its purpose is, as some of the goals discussed at the first meeting already exceeded simply finding a marketer.
“There was one task and just one task and it was pretty well pushed that way, and I think that this task force should have more than one task to do,” he said.Tags: Regional Treatment Center