Kirkbride building needs to be preserved [UPDATED]Published 8:40am Monday, June 18, 2012 Updated 12:43pm Monday, June 18, 2012
When I first moved to Fergus Falls, I discovered two places that made this community unique and special.
One place was Lake Alice, and the other the Kirkbride complex at the Regional Treatment Center. It is a joy to see the efforts being made to renew the beauty of Lake Alice. It is a point of sadness that the Fergus Falls City Council continues to discuss the demolition of the historic Kirkbride complex.
In the June 13 editorial of the Daily Journal, the Kirkbride complex was called “the city’s most recognizable community landmark.” I agree. And I would add that every effort should be made to preserve and re-use “the city’s more recognizable community landmark.”
During SummerFest, I had the opportunity to help lead tours through the historic Kirkbride. Over 850 people toured the building and their comments were all the same. “How can the city even think of destroying this beautiful building? It would be a mistake to tear this building down. Fergus Falls should view this building as an asset, not a liability.”
While I applaud the efforts that are being made to find a developer for the RTC, I fear that the city will decide to go ahead with plans for demolition. It makes no sense.
Willmar and Traverse City, Michigan have buildings similar to the Kirkbride. Developers in these small communities have created space in these buildings for offices, industry, boutiques, restaurants, shops, condos, apartments, and retail businesses. Fergus Falls can do the same with out historic Kirkbride.
I urge readers to contact city council members to let them know you support every effort to preserve and reuse “the city’s most recognizable community landmark.”
I urge city council members to take a fresh look at this historic building and see that is still has great potential to make a positive impact on our community.
Pastor Jon B. Olson