Negotiations between MVHS and four unwilling-to-sell property owners in the downtown Utica hospital parking garage footprint broke down several months ago. Now, it's Oneida County's turn to negotiate. They're currently making moves that will give them what they need to begin those negotiations.
"We went out to bid on an appraiser. We have an appraiser under agreement and the appraiser is going to go out and take a look at the properties so we have a basis upon which to commence our own negotiations with existing property owners," says County Attorney, Peter Rayhill. "My guess is we will commence that certainly within the next month, maybe within the next three weeks."
If the owners of Citation Services, the property on which Enterprise Rent a Car sits, a home on LaFayette Street and an empty lot near Wilcor, decline the county's offers, the battle moves to State Supreme Court, in Utica, where Rayhill is confident the outcome will be favorable to the county.
"The question is do you have the power, are you granted the power by the state to take the property? It's clear under county law the county has that power. And then the question is, does the municipality condemning the property have a need for the property? If you have the power and you can establish the need, the government is allowed to take the property for fair compensation," says Rayhill.
If the property owners decline the county's offers, Rayhill says eminent domain proceedings are only a few months away.
"I would say late spring, early summer."