ST. PAUL – The city of Fergus Falls continues to pay off a loan used to fund the waste incinerator and steam heating facility at its regional treatment center. However, as plans to redevelop the center continue to move forward, the city has asked State Rep. Bud Nornes to help it out.
Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) has introduced legislation (HF3335) requesting state bonding dollars to pay off the remaining loan of $448,000. Last year, Nornes authored a similar bill.
“There must be some way to reuse this facility,” Nornes said. “The building is an important part of Fergus Falls, so we should find another use for it.”
The redevelopment ideas fall in line with the recommendations in the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center Master Plan and Reused Study. The master plan, which was adopted by the Fergus Falls City Council, outlines an $88 million project that includes a school, community center and senior housing complex. The plan also states the historic facility, which was built in the 1890s as the Fergus Falls State Hospital, could either be preserved or simply demolished. The center treats chemically dependent, and/or mentally ill patients.
The hospital, 1400 Union Ave. N., was designed by psychiatrist Thomas Kirkbride, who revolutionized the design of facilities for treating the mentally ill. The long and narrow building has a window in every room, which was dramatically different from the asylums of the 1800s. The Fergus Falls structure remains one of the most complete Kirkbride buildings in the nation. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The incinerator was used to burn the city’s garbage and was shut down last month. The city owes the remaining $448,000 to the state in outstanding loans for construction and improvements.
“In order to move forward with redevelopment, this step needs to be taken,” Nornes said. “The center is important to our region, and the governor has indicated all bonding projects must have regional significance. I believe this fits his criteria.”