It was supposed to be a joint press conference between Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) and the Compassion Coalition on Tuesday – except the Compassion Coalition wasn't present at St. Luke's Hospital.
And while MVHS announced that the Compassion Coalition is one of 14 downtown Utica business owners who have signed a purchase option agreement with MVHS for sale of their property within the downtown hospital footprint, the Coalition says they're not selling.
Downtown hospital plan courtesy of the Mohawk Valley Health System
Downtown hospital rendering courtesy of the Mohawk Valley Health System
"They are one of the 14, correct," said MVHS COO Bob Scholefield. "The footprint of the project has not changed."
However, a statement that Compassion Coalition issued following the press conference seems to directly contradict Scholefield's statement.
"Our team and Mohawk Valley Health System have a signed agreement that allows us to continue our work in the Columbia Lafayette Street neighborhood. We are not selling the Compassion Coalition building located at 509 Lafayette St. IF and WHEN a location of our choosing that suits the needs of the Compassion Coalition becomes available, we would then speak about the possibility of relocating," said Compassion Coalition founder Mike Servello in a statement.
There was no further comment from either side.
MVHS said at Tuesday's press conference that 14 downtown property owners have signed purhcase option agreements with MVHS; 11 are actively negotiating; six aren't talking at all; and four are refusing to sell. Scholefield expects the four refusing to sell to be taken through eminent domain/condemnation.