As most of you are aware, the demolition of the old regional treatment center is underway. In my five years at the legislature, I tried to save the campus and find new opportunities for the use of the buildings — including a proposal for a new veterans’ nursing home. Last year’s bonding bill contained the funding to demolish the campus.
As the demolition has reached the midway point, many folks have contacted me asking, “Why are all the trees being cut down?” I was troubled by this and so were Brainerd city officials. We contacted state officials overseeing the project and were told that some of the removed trees were suffering from disease while others were in poor condition. Many others removed were directly impacted due to the demolition.
According to state officials, a number of trees around the outer parts of the campus will not be removed and are not impacted by the project. I remain concerned and have said all along that any final outcome of the demolition process must result in economic development and job creation. If the property looks to be in poor shape, the city will have a hard time selling it for development.
I will continue to keep a close eye on the demolition and will be advocating keeping the remaining buildings for re-use. With the slow economic recovery in our area, we need smart economic development that will lead to permanent jobs. As long as I am your state legislator, I’ll continue fighting for job creation and retention, and to improve the economy in our area.
Rep. John Ward