UTICA -- After releasing a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed downtown hospital, Utica's planning board held a public meeting, Thursday, to hear the public's thoughts on the draft.
The draft details significant effects the hospital could have on the environment. Those effects include impacts on land, air, groundwater, and human health. The public shared their thoughts on the draft.
“It is my belief that it’s all about the environment,” said attendee Brett Truett. “The environment people live in. I’ve been investing in downtown Utica for a number of years and the hospital kind of came out of nowhere and it’s kind of sidetracked a lot of progress. Other people would say it’s created more progress.”
Despite impacts the hospital could have on the environment, some people who attended the meeting lobbied for the hospital.
"I think that the hospital would be just what we need,” said attendee Lucretia Hunt. “It’ll continue on with the movement going on now for the revitalization.”
Truett owns a property in the footprint of the downtown hospital. He says the proximity of the proposed hospital to train tracks could be a safety concern.
“There’s derailments that happen across the country every other day and for someone to say that a train will not derail in the next 65 years, in the vicinity of downtown, is an opinion and I think facts will bear out that it is a risk and if he [places] the hospital at St. Luke’s, that risk goes away,” Truett said.
Still some residents say they are eager to see change in the city.
“A lot of those buildings down there have been there a long, long time some are dilapidated,” Hunt said. “I know there are existing businesses there, that are still there, and hate to give up which I can understand. But I think that’s an ideal spot. I think it’s going to be the future of the city.”
Written comment from the public will be accepted until December 27. After the public comment period, a final environmental impact statement will be drafted.