UTICA – Nearly two weeks after the deadline passed for property owners within the new downtown hospital footprint to sign purchase agreements, seven of the 35 property owners have already signed or are in the process of signing, according to the Mohawk Valley Health System. Specifically-six have signed.
On Wednesday, MVHS officials provided an update on the property acquisition process. MVHS and Bond, Schoeneck & King – the law firm handling the property acquisition process – continue to work with property owners to finalize the agreements.
According to MVHS, this is where the process stands with the 35 property owners who represent 72 parcels of land within the new hospital footprint:
- Seven property owners, representing 13 properties, have completed or are in the process of completing a signed, purchase-option agreement.
- Twenty property owners are in activate negotiation with MVHS.
- Five property owners have received purchase-option agreements but are not in active discussion with BSK or MVHS.
- Three property owners have indicated they are not interested in any type of agreement.
"None of the local governmental agencies want to raise their hand and say 'of course we'll do it' because there's a negative connotation associated with that," said Scholefield, of the eminent domain process. "From a realistic perspective, someone has to shoulder that burden....so at this particular point, we do not know who that's going to be."
"They're not going anywhere with this project," says Jim Brock, of the No Hospital Downtown movement. "There is not a governmental agency that has agreed to bring eminent domain against those property owners, so they're no further along than they were before," said Brock, pointing out that the majority of property owners in the downtown hospital footprint have not yet signed MVHS' purchase offers.
“We are pleased with the response we’ve received to this point and will continue our work with the property owners to finalize purchase-option agreements,” said Robert Scholefield, executive vice president and COO for MVHS. “Now that the deadline has passed, we will start looking at our options to acquire properties from the few property owners who have not responded, in the event we are unable to reach an agreement.”
MVHS also announced that Joseph Wicks of Bouckville has been hired as the project coordinator to help downtown businesses within the hospital footprint identify potential options and funding for relocation. Wicks will also act as a community liaison for a work group made up of representatives from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, Oneida County, the City of Utica, Mohawk Valley EDGE, MVHS and The Community Foundation.
Wicks previously served as community engagement lead coordinator and grant manager for Integrated Community Planning Inc. in Oswego County.
MVHS says Wicks will also work on the development of reuse plans for repurposing St. Elizabeth Medical Center and the St. Luke’s Campus.