Archived Story

RTC extension seems positive [UPDATED]

Published 11:28am Friday, April 5, 2013 Updated 11:29am Friday, April 5, 2013

All signs were positive Thursday morning regarding an extension for the Regional Treatment Center demolition funding deadline.

Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) and city representatives spoke to the capital investment committee in the legislative house Thursday seeking a two-year deadline extension — until December 2016 — for the RTC demolition funds.

“Our hope is that this gets included as part of the bonding bill when it’s put together,” Nornes said.

The current deadline to request reimbursement for up to $5 million in demolition funds is December 2014.

The council previously approved the authorization to seek an extension from the Legislature, which would provide more flexibility in working with investors and developers for the RTC, according to Mayor Hal Leland.

“We had a very good reception, and I think the outcome of the hearing was very, very positive,” Leland said.

A list of a dozen interested prospects for redeveloping the RTC was presented to the city council in early March.

“The city is putting a real effort into locating a developer,” Nornes said. “And it’s encouraging right now to find that there are a number of people who are coming forward with an interest.”

The deadline would allow developers to not feel rushed and be able to come up with a plan for the RTC, according to Nornes.

“The last thing that people want to see, at least that most people want to see, is that building demolished,” Nornes said.

Every developer or investor the city has visited with in the past three or four years has commented on the good condition, magnificent buildings at the RTC and how it would be a shame to destroy it, Leland said.

On the other hand, there’s not enough money to develop the entire thing at one time, he said, which is why they’re seeking the extension.

“The difficult part of the Kirkbride facility is its size,” Leland said.

Fergus Falls City Council member Jay Cichosz believes the extension will be granted. He spoke in front of the committee, and he also said there were no negative comments during the hearing.

“Multiple members commended us on attempting to save the campus,” Cichosz said. “They said, ‘You’re doing a service to the state and the community.’”

No action was taken Thursday, as the committee will continue to work on putting a bonding bill together.

It’s not known when the bonding bill items will be determined, but it could go until the end of the legislative session, Nornes said.

“My hope is that we can give it this one last go,” Cichosz said. “Let’s hope we can find somebody that fits.”


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