Downtown hospital project tensions persist on social media following Facebook threat

UTICA, N.Y.--The dust is beginning to settle after police determined a Facebook threat made against local politicians over the downtown hospital project was not credible.

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 12:14 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:56 AM

UTICA, N.Y.--The dust is beginning to settle after police determined a Facebook threat made against local politicians over the downtown hospital project was not credible.

While groups on both sides of the issue are condemning violence, the tensions over the planned downtown hospital persist on social media.

Officials with the Community Foundation, a non-profit partnering with Mohawk Valley Health System on the project, claimed the grassroots organization No Hospital Downtown has created a toxic tone in public debate.

"The tenor of the conversation of the discussion on social media and in person has deteriorated," John Swann, Executive Vice President of the Community Foundation said. "There are outliers who are setting a bad example for the fellow citizens, for children."

Jim Brock, a co-founder of No Hospital Downtown said their online presence creates a platform for open discussion, something he claimed the Community Foundation and MVHS has eliminated.

"If our site uses some humor and points out that folks are not doing the right thing, elected officials, community organizations, we may use different forms to attack them, but we will attack them," Brock said.

Though they started a counter campaign, Swann claimed No Hospital Downtown's social media presence hasn't swayed interested away from the project.

"There is a big world out there of communication, there's lots of messaging going on about this project," Swann said. "They've mentioned that they've hired some kind of a doctor or specialist who said that he made the decision to come here as a career move because they're building a new hospital."

Brock argued his social media presence is aimed towards younger residents and those who may consider moving to Utica in the future.

"How the young people, who potentially might either want to stay who are graduating, or those who might want to relocate here or even move back to where family and friends live," Brock said. "They are going to be concerned when they see our downtown demolished for some silver bullet project a la urban renewal."

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