Mohawk Valley Health System officials say the plans to build a new hospital in downtown Utica are still on their targeted timeline.
By this time next year, the buildings that currently lie within the new hospital footprint will be leveled and the foundation will be in the midst of being poured. The group that opposes the hospital says that’s not the case.
In a tiny conference room at St. Elizabeth Medical Center on Thursday, officials with MVHS held a news conference to provide updates on the progress being made on the new downtown hospital.
They say that so far, the original timeline is panning out, and they also discussed financing.
"This is a $480 million project – $300 million of that is coming from the state grant, the other $180 million is coming from MVHS financing,” said Robert Scholefield, executive vice president/COO for MVHS.
Scholefield says they’ve selected a lending institution for the $180 million not being covered by New York State, and they plan to announce that lender in the coming days.
At the news conference they also discussed the properties that lie within the hospital footprint. MVHS says that of the 35 property owners, 19 are in the process of a purchase agreement – 14 have already signed, four of them were verbal agreements.
But representatives with the No Hospital Downtown group say those numbers likely aren’t accurate.
“They should be held accountable to say which property owners,” said Jim Brock. “No one from No Hospital Downtown is going to attack anyone or disparage anyone for signing a purchase option agreement. … That’s not who we are."
Another source of contention is the Utica Police Department. MVHS officials say the maintenance garage lies within the footprint but the station and court house are not included.
“It depends on which map you look at. Whether it’s a map that they meant for people to see or not to see,” Brock said.
MVHS says that so far there are six property owners who have not responded or have flat-out rejected any agreement to sell. When asked when eminent domain would be factored in, Scholefield said that will likely happen in December.
Back in April, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente issued a statement saying that the city would use eminent domain to acquire the properties within the hospital footprint, and the county will use it to acquire properties within the footprint for the hospital’s parking garage.