It's not yet clear who will take the lead on eminent domain proceedings, should it come to that, regarding Utica's downtown hospital.
"It could be one of the state agencies, it could be the county, the city, it could be an LDC, a local development corporation. It could be other agencies that deal in condemnation", said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. "We do have that ability. Would we do it? Probably not. It's in the city of Utica for that purpose. I think it has to center more around the hospital development."
But Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says the city will have no part of eminent domain proceedings.
"My position is the same position I've had for the last two and a half years to three years. The city will not, has never even engaged with eminent domain, nor will we," says Palmieri.
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi isn't sure with whom the unsavory task of eminent domain would rest, but says all parties had better figure it out.
"We're finally getting the attention we deserve, we're getting money for a new hospital. Let's stop bickering amongst ourselves and actually get something done because at the end of the day, if we don't build this hospital, the state takes the money back, they give it to another community, and the people in this community are the ones that lose out," says Brindisi.
Eminent domain is the right of the government to take private property for a public purpose. MVHS has made offers to downtown business owners for their properties. Property owners are considering those offers and can suggest changes to hospital attorneys. Some owners have said they will not sell, no matter the offer. Others have said the offer falls significantly short of what they'd need to relocate.
Asked for a statement and whether the NYS Dormitory Authority could undertake eminent domain proceedings in Utica, the governor's office referred the inquiry to the NYS Department of Health, which sent a statement saying any discussions surrounding the eminent domain process are premature at this time.
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