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Oneida County holds eminent domain public hearing for downtown Utica hospital project

Four property owners refuse to sell in order for the city to build a 1,050 space parking garage to accompany the new MVHS hospital development.

Posted: Dec 24, 2020 12:23 AM

Currently four property owners in downtown Utica are defending their assets and have not reached a sales agreement with the health system for a public parking garage to accompany the new Mohawk Valley Health System hospital building and serve those visiting the Adirondack Bank Center and the city court.

Most of the land to complete this project has been acquired. Now, Oneida County is considering moving towards using New York's Eminent Domain Procedure Law to acquire the remaining land.

Wednesday night, Oneida County Department of Law held a virtual public hearing to give propoerty owners and local officials an opportunity to express their thoughts to the County Board of Legislatures. 

The properties in jeopardy of being acquired through eminent domain are 525-527 Oriskany Street, 400-406 Lafayette Street, 442 Lafayette Street, and 418-430 Lafayette Street in order to build the 1,050, 3 -level parking garage.

Local government officials and business owners say they do not believe this garage is needed.

“It's not at all obvious that it's necessary and I think using eminent domain to seize private property from its citizens for a project that has not been shown to the public to be necessary,” said Celeste Friend, Utica Common Councilperson 3rd District. “It's extremely inappropriate.”

“Eminent domain should not be used in this case. Private public development took place after the fact eminent domain is being proposed to take private property from individuals who have a right to ownership. In this case the proposed project will not market and if wanted maybe place in other reasonable locations where other parking garages exist,” says Timothy Julian, Oneida County Board of Legislatures reading a statement from Utica Common Council President, Michael Galime who could not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.

Katie Aiello, owner of Character Coffee says, “It appears that these parking spots for service parking is already sufficient. Eminent domain is theft.”

Dan Walker, property manager of 525-527 Oriskany Street says, "I respect the hospital coming downtown but for parking abilities, I think they can work out different alternatives than interrupting people's businesses and taking property."

In 2019, the #nohospitaldowntown group and the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica filed a law suit against the city and MVHS to stop construction of the new hospital. That lawsuit was dismissed by state supreme court in October.

According to a health system official, the MVHS hospital should be completed by May 2023.

All further information can be submitted to eminentdomain@ocgov.net or call the Oneida County Attorney's office 315-793-5910.

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