ST. PAUL – State Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) has introduced legislation appropriating money for capital projects to reuse the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center.
“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.”
According to the bill, the projects funded must be consistent with the recommendations in the final Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center Master Plan and Reused Study. The bill also calls for $400,000 to demolish the waste incinerator and steam heating facility located near the center.
An additional $2.3 million is requested to retire municipal bonds issued by the city of Fergus Falls and to retire interfund loans the city made in connection with the incinerator.
The master plan, recently 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 is used to burn the city’s garbage. The city owes about $2.3 million to the state in outstanding loans for construction and improvements.