As many of you may have heard on local TV news there are plans to put a new hospital to replace the other two in the downtown area of Utica. The proposed facility has been billed as a boon to downtown Utica. The promise of $300 million has come from Albany to help fund it. I will first mention the in no way shape or form is this a done deal.
My object here is to inform rural taxpayers that you and I will be paying for a lot of the extra facilities for the project none the least of which is a parking garage. The money has been advertised as being only for downtown Utica. That is not correct. It has been seriously misrepresented by both politicians and news media.
There is no money tree in Albany, it is our tax money being spent much like the billion dollar Nano project that has come with only 13 jobs and endless excuses. There is a core group of business people who are opposed to this and are working hard to save their nearly 40 taxpaying properties that are intended to be displaced.
There are Facebook pages dedicated to both support and opposition to the plan. I invite you to read them over for yourself to form an opinion. As one of those opposed I will mention that there are many good reasons to site this facility at St. Luke’s Campus.
MVHS-controlled hospitals already own 64 acres there to build on undisturbed land, One can only guess what would be dug up downtown and replacement of every part of utility infrastructure will need to be replaced. The expensive part will be the unknown remediation costs. One of the more ominous problems about downtown is that it is in the Evacuation zone in the event of a chemical spill or oil fire on the railroad. These have occurred to the degree of evacuation in other places.
The most annoying part of all this to me is the arrogant autonomy by elected officials that are being used to shove this project through. Email records that were “FOILed” demonstrate that there was never any intention for the public to have any input, least of all the property owners’ downtown whose property is threatened. The #nohospitaldowntown folks from Facebook attempted to publicize their opposition to the plan on billboards but were refused rental opportunity which amounts to censorship.
The claim that the hospital will bring prosperity to downtown businesses has been documented to fail many times in many places. The Auditorium and hockey is a grand success and parking would be either removed or turned into parking garages that add inconvenience and cost to attendees. Some believe this parking garage is a precursor to a downtown casino. I urge everyone to start this conversation and make your wishes known. This will be expensive for all of us.
P.S. For an expanded version of this letter see: http://www.nohospitaldowntown.com/voices-pete-benson
Peter M. Benson