Per WUTR last Friday: MVPC Brigham Building tour sparks controversy; some say public is being shut out
Some of the Utica City Council members were told they would be getting a tour of the facility this afternoon. Upon their arrival, they were told the tour was cancelled and they'd have to leave the premises immediately, otherwise we'd be forcibly removed.Per an exchange of e-mails secured by Fault Lines, Councilman Vescera arranged with Gov. Cuomo's Regional Representative, Charles "Sonny" Greco, for a tour by three parties of the Brigham Building on the Office of Mental Health's MVPC campus on Friday, September 21st at 4PM. Mr. Greco made it very clear that a head count was needed, and that all tour participants were to "come prepared with hard hats, steel toed boots, and flashlights or he/she will not be permitted on the tour."
It's not clear from the story above what went wrong, but the prospective tourists were denied access in rather blunt terms. Did the tourists follow the rules? Did too many people show up? No explanation is apparent.
Formerly a cornerstone of West Utica with a lot of good-paying jobs, the MV Psych Center has shed almost all of its employees over the years, recently closing its last ward. The hulking abandoned buildings, boarded up and with broken windows are unsightly. Additionally many former residents on the margins of the bell-curve of social behavior have taken up residence near by. The triple whammy of job-removal, slum-like buildings, and significant numbers of people with behavioral problems has contributed to the decline of the West Utica neighborhood.
The City of Utica, for the most part, has allowed all this to occur for years with nary a wimper of complaint.
However, as defective as the City's new Master Plan is, the Plan recognizes the importance of the Psych Center both to the neighborhood's current state as well as to it's potential renaissance. The Master Plan calls for the City and State to come up with a redevelopment plan where the campus could host private facilities as well as ones owned by the state ... much like the Harriman Campus in the western part of Albany.
The fact that developers are showing an interest in the Brigham Building is a good sign for Utica, and the planned tour was to be an aid in potentially redeveloping the site.
The State needs to do its part. While it won't acknowledge its role in West Utica's decline, it could at least cooperate with those who are trying to build the area up.
State officials need to remember what is stated at the bottom of each of Mr. Greco's e-mails:
"WE WORK FOR THE PEOPLE"