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MVHS to offer $1 million in relocation funding to property owners affected by Utica hospital project

UTICA, N.Y. — The board of directors of the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) is taking what it calls “two major steps” to address the “needs and concerns” of property owners affected by its downtown Utica hospital project.

MVHS will offer up to $1 million in relocation funding for affected property owners in the project footprint that are “looking to relocate within the City of Utica or Oneida County,” the organization said in a news release issued Tuesday

In addition, property owners in the footprint of the new campus “will not be responsible” for addressing environmental issues caused by previous owners of those properties.


“If the current property owner is not responsible for environmental issues found on the property, he or she will not be expected to remediate the property,” Scott Perra, president and CEO of MVHS, said in the release. “MVHS will take care of any necessary remediation once the property is acquired. Based on our conversations with property owners, this will come as very positive news.”

MVHS is an affiliation of Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center (SEMC), both of Utica. The two organizations teamed up in March 2014.

Officials from MVHS, Oneida County, City of Utica, the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, and Mohawk Valley EDGE gathered for a joint press conference Tuesday to announce the next steps to support property owners within the footprint of the new regional healthcare campus in downtown Utica.

“This offer of relocation assistance and alleviation of the burden of remediating environmental issues are two very positive steps in supporting the property owners in the footprint of the new regional healthcare campus in downtown Utica,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said in the MVHS release. “I also believe that the creation of a full-time project coordinator funded by the Community Foundation will be a major benefit in facilitating the process moving forward.”

Relocation assistance will be determined “on a case-by-case basis,” according to Perra. MVHS and Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC — the Syracuse–based law firm handling the property-acquisition process — will remain the “direct points of contact” for any property-acquisition communications.

“The new regional health-care campus project is one of unprecedented magnitude in our area, with the primary mission of delivering state-of-the-art healthcare to our region and contributing to the redevelopment of downtown,” said Perra. “With that in mind, a project work group of public and private partners has been collaborating to address critical aspects of the project, including assistance for property owners in the project footprint.”

New coordinator position

In addition to relocation assistance and remediation relief, officials announced that a new full-time project coordinator will help affected businesses identify potential options and funding for relocation.

The Community Foundation will employ the coordinator and fund the position. The coordinator will act as a central point of contact for affected property owners and a community liaison for the work group.

The work group includes representatives of the governor’s office, Oneida County, City of Utica, Mohawk Valley EDGE, MVHS, and the Community Foundation. Together, the work group and coordinator will “support and coordinate communication to ensure continued progress for the project.”

The coordinator will also work with MVHS, Mohawk Valley EDGE and community stakeholders on the development of reuse plans for the repurposing of the St. Elizabeth Medical Center and the St. Luke’s campuses.


The group calling itself “#NoHospitalDowntown” is opposed to the downtown Utica location for the hospital project. On its website,, the group has posted at least 30 reasons why it doesn’t like the downtown area for the hospital project.

Jim Brock and Brett Truett are the group’s co-founders, according to an email message sent to BJNN on Oct. 31, 2017.

The group contends that hospitals “do not revitalize” downtowns. “There is no evidence that any hospital located in an urban downtown area has resulted in urban revitalization,” the group says on the site.

It also believes that urban hospitals “create unsafe areas around them, especially at night. Hospitals are seen as public spaces where one can seek refuge. Some seek warmth, drugs (to buy or sell), some are drunk or under the influence of drugs. Also, the high concentration of cars, especially in parking garages, are easy targets for theft and other crimes. As proof, the famed healthcare facility, the Cleveland Clinic has its own police force of 250 officers.”

The group is also concerned that more than 40 businesses that pay “approximately $300,000” in city, county, and school taxes “would be lost to build a private tax-exempt hospital.”

“If the hospital was to be built over five years, then $1,500,000 would be lost before even one new taxable medical building could be constructed,” according to the group’s website.

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