UTICA, NY-- Congresswoman Claudia Tenney is condemning Utica and Oneida County's use of eminent domain concerning property in the downtown hospital footprint.
Rep. Claudia Tenney, (R-22) said the use of eminent domain over the proposed downtown hospital is an overreach of government.
"Politicians in the state and some on the local level have a long record of abusing taxpayer money by using that money to prop up one private business over another," she said in a written press release. "Declaring eminent domain... in the proposed downtown Utica hospital footprint is an equally egregious taking of constitutionally protected rights."
Oneida County will handle eminent domain for properties in the footprint of the proposed parking garage and Utica's Urban Renewal Agency will handle acquiring the other properties in the project footprint, if the hospital isn't able to through negotiations.
The hospital will be built in the downtown area near Oriskany Columbia and State streets and Broadway. Currently, 10 of the 35 property owners have signs purchase agreements. Three have said they will not sell and five have not responded to purchase offers. Seventeen property owners are still in negotiations with the Mohawk Valley Health System. The health system can't take possession of those properties until the State Environmental Quality Review is finished this fall.
Tenney said business owners being able to control their property is a cornerstone principle of our government, and that project is being presented under economic development, but the state has a history of spending billions in tax money without enough results.
"Now, self-serving politicians are going even further, forcing multi-generational, taxpaying businesses out of our community," she said, in a written press release. "This is not only a costly undertaking for businesses, this could force many to the brink of bankruptcy. These businesses are among the few left which contribute to our shrinking tax base, to worthy charitable causes in our region and many have been staples in our community for generations."
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente responded with the following statement, "Once again, Claudia Tenney speaks before thinking. Obviously, she doesn't care about the health care of her constituents. She doesn't know anything about this project because in between her taxpayer-funded vacations to Taiwan and Egypt, she has failed to learn anything about it. While she continues to make headlines as a national embarrassment, we still await action from her on the issues facing our community including school safety, relief from FEMA and help for our dairy farmers."
Mayor Robert Palmieri also released a statement regarding Tenney's reaction to the possible use of eminent domain.
"The proposed hospital project is a transformational, once in a lifetime opportunity to bring state-of-the-art medical care and technology to our community. Congresswoman Tenney is entitled to her opinion, but she is factually inaccurate in referencing "our shrinking tax base" as Utica's tax base has grown over the past six years due to proactive and aggressive economic development efforts. This project is about providing high quality health care our residents deserve. Rather than spreading political rhetoric, my Administration will continue to work with and assist impacted businesses on an individual basis."
Scott Perra, the CEO and president of MVHS responded to Tenney's comments with the following statement,
"While we acknowledge that there are properties that could reach the eminent domain process, MVHS will continue to reach out and work with all property owners to reach an agreement. It is our desire to avoid the use of eminent domain if possible."
Officials with MVHS will meet with local business owners in favor of the downtown hospital tomorrow. According to MVHS leaders will share their reasons for wanting the downtown location and anticipated benefits.
The projected $480 million hospital is expected to break ground next year and be complete by 2022.