RTC funds should be stringless [UPDATED]Published 9:39am Thursday, October 18, 2012 Updated 11:40am Thursday, October 18, 2012
Much of the concern over the Fergus Falls City Council’s proposal to demolish the Kirkbride building at the Regional Treatment Center campus is over a now Dec. 14, 2014 state deadline to make use of a $7.1 million grant.
We have cautioned the Fergus Falls City Council not to make decisions that would jeopardize the state funds. However, with the latest proposal by a company who remodeled another Kirkbride building into a tourist attraction, the question needs to be asked to state officials: why does the money need to have strings attached to it?
The fact is, the Legislature authorized the construction of the Regional Treatment Center in the late 1800s, a facility far larger than what a community the size of Fergus Falls would need otherwise. The Legislature also changed the methods of treating patients with mental illness over the years, making large state facilities such as the RTC unnecessary.
It seems the least the state could do is to simply give the city the $7.1 million grant.
With a facility as large as the RTC, potential developers are likely to require significant time to study the property and create plans for it. The deadline only increases the risk that developers would give up.
Our local legislators need to push for a bill that eliminates the deadline. The only stipulation on the $7.1 million should be that it is used for the RTC.
While we don’t think the RTC should be mothballed forever, it is a problem that Fergus Falls, not the Legislature needs to be concerned with.