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Picture perfect? [UPDATED]

Published 7:24am Monday, April 1, 2013 Updated 9:28am Monday, April 1, 2013

One possible way to preserve the Regional Treatment Center is to take photographs of every square inch of it. That’s the idea put forth through an initiative called Project Kirkbride.

“So basically we can have preserved a copy of this building,” said project organizer Christian VanAntwerpen. “So we do have something for history.”

Project Kirkbride would like to have 35 photographers shoot at the RTC from May 3-5. However, the project has not been approved by the Fergus Falls City Council, and the staff response to the proposal does not agree with some of the proposal’s points. The proposal is on Monday’s council meeting agenda.

“It’s a matter, in my mind, of trying to convey… that this is a not for profit opportunity to present something to the city,” VanAntwerpen said.

The outlined project “lacks sufficient detail for staff to adequately respond to the proposal,” according to the city staff response. VanAntwerpen hasn’t made himself available for a requested meeting and walk-through with staff that would allow him and city staff to work on details, according to the city response.

A number of project issues were addressed in the city recommendation including 35 photographers being too large of a group to accommodate, the east wing and tunnels being off-limits, and a $5,000 deposit recommended to cover for estimated staff time and electricity.

All photographers in the unsafe areas of the RTC would meet OSHA recommendations for personal protective equipment, according to the project’s proposal.

The purpose of the project is to preserve the memory of the Kirkbride’s service as a state hospital before its either re-purposed or demolished. The photos would be placed on a website where they would be interactively viewable to the public. It’s designed to be a gift to the Friends of the Kirkbride, Fergus Falls and the world.

The city council approved a security control outline for the RTC March 18. The list of security guidelines addresses cost, isolated areas, security, insurance and more. Requests for the use of the RTC (other than Friends of the Kirkbride tours) would need council approval. Sievert recommended the guidelines “to make sure we’re covering all our bases.”

VanAntwerpen said he was aware of the city’s plan to work on guidelines for using the RTC.

“I was not aware that they were looking for ways to restrict usage,” VanAntwerpen said.

VanAntwerpen said Friday that he first contacted Mayor Hal Leland and City Administrator Mark Sievert in January via phone and fax regarding Project Kirkbride. VanAntwerpen said he then left messages for Sievert but had not heard back from him until the guideline approval.

“That’s been a misunderstanding on my part, why we couldn’t communicate,” VanAntwerpen said. “We kind of got swept under the rug.”

Project Kirkbride has the support of the Ottertail County Historical Society, which is the fiscal host for the fundraising efforts, along with Friends of the Kirkbride.

As far as the Project Kirkbride proposal, VanAntwerpen said he really can’t change the part about photographing every square inch, because that’s what supporters are expecting.

With so much support, Project Kirkbride will not stop because one person says it’s not possible, VanAntwerpen said.

“We are still intending to move forward until we are indefinitely shut down,” VanAntwerpen said.

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