UTICA, N.Y. -- "When I started in the business, I quit my job, I had a $300 credit card, and I grew the business from scratch," says Joe Cerini, of Citation Services, on Lafayette Street, in Utica. "Figured I'd find someplace that I'd never have to worry about moving again."
Now, Cerini has plenty of worries. The downtown Utica hospital is going up all around him. The heavy equipment and resulting noise are a constant reminder that his business is now in the middle of a construction zone. There's only one small problem: Cerini has, to this point, refused to sell his property, which is in the hospital parking garage footprint, to MVHS. Now, Oneida County is trying to persuade him. So far, they've fallen short.
"The offer's about a third less than MVHS offered. I'm not interested in their offer," says Cerini. "I believe their figure is about $130,000 less than MVHS was willing to pay."
The county has now sent formal, written offers to Cerini, the owner of an empty lot in the footprint, the owner of a house in the footprint, and, the owner of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
"We've completed our appraisals and now that those are in, we sent those out with offers to the remaining property owners in the footprint and we're awaiting a response from them so we haven't heard anything back, yet," says County Attorney, Peter Rayhill.
While less than impressed by the county's initial offer, Cerini says he is willing to listen.
"I'm just sticking it out. I will talk price, but I'm not ...anything they've thrown at me is more an insult than a reliable offer," says Cerini. "Seeing where they wanna go with it. They have to know they're low-balling me on price."
If Cerini's property doesn't go willingly, it will go by compulsion. County attorneys say if a deal isn't struck, eminent domain will likely be invoked by the end of the year.
"Our thought is that we will get some response, so we know how to move forward. But in the event we don't, then we will continue to try and contact them, and if people are unwilling to respond to us, then we'll have to proceed under the provisions of the eminent domain procedure law," says Rayhill.