The No Hospital Downtown movement is marking three years in existence with a major contribution to their bank account. Their goal is to help fight the Mohawk Valley Health System’s new $480 million hospital that will be built in downtown Utica.
On Wednesday, Brett Truett, co-founder of the No Hospital Downtown group, announced that he had deposited $100,000 from his business checking account into the No Hospital Downtown account, in anticipation of lengthy and costly legal battles to come.
"We have a number of businesses in the corridor that have lawyers ready to go,” said Jim Brock, a co-founder of No Hospital Downtown. “This will be a fight for years. The fight for the future of our city. The preservation of our city. The walkability of our city. The connectivity of our city.”
Officials with MVHS say they’re neither unprepared nor unfunded when it comes to the possibility of going to court before the hospital can be built at the chosen downtown site.
"There's a line item in this budget for this budget for legal fees,” said Robert Scholefield, COO of MVHS. “So we have legal fees associated with the acquisition of properties, closing costs. There's a number of legal fee items in this project.”
"And if necessary, costs for dealing with any property owners that we have to go to eminent domain,” Scholefield said.
There are 35 property owners that have properties located within the downtown hospital footprint. MVHS officials say 20 of those owners have agreed the sell and have signed purchase agreements, and nine are still negotiating. The remaining six have either not responded or refused to sell.