City to close Kirkbride until springPublished 10:49am Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Despite being given keys and signed approval to use the Kirkbride building to film a movie, a local director will not be able to use the facility at least until March after the Fergus Falls City Council unanimously voted to hold off on allowing members of the public entrance to the building to allow time for policies to be put in place and to address liability issues and specific use restrictions.
Director Cody Sundvor stayed calm but clearly expressed his frustration with the situation Monday. He presented written permission and a waiver signed that he claimed would take liability away from the city.
Sundvor said he has been holding auditions nationally, and some of the people involved are putting off other priorities to do participate in project. He intends to begin filming in March, so there is still a chance that shooting could start on time, but the city did not guarantee it.
Chief of Public Safety Kile Bergren discussed security, safety and liability issues with giving the public unlimited access to the Kirkbride building. He said he didn’t deny there was a miscommunication, but it is important for the city to step back and come up with a manageable solution for these issues.
“We took this position based on some complaints we received from residents, city staff and council members,” Bergren said.
Council members raised concern to the issue of time and money spent on developing policy when it will likely be short-lived. If it is sold or demolished, the building will soon be out of the city’s hands.
While members understood Sundvor’s frustration, the council voted unanimously to take the next two months to develop a policy to determine how to approach people like Sundvor who have an interest in using the facility. The council did not guarantee, however, Sundvor would be able to use the Kirkbride in March.
“We understand and appreciate the predicament, and it’s unfortunate it had to occur,” said mayor Hal Leland.
Public tours of the Kirkbride facility are not practical in the winter anyway due to the building’s lack of heat, said Lynne Olson, assistant to the city administrator. Dec. 7 was the most recent public tour. The city would be willing to open the Kirkbride if a prospective developer who wanted to look at the building, Olson said.