The opportunity to build a new hospital for our community is significant and we, the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) board of directors, welcome the public conversation that the project has initiated."Welcoming" public conversation now is too little too late. The decision to permanently remove 34 acres from the tax rolls, close streets, and dedicating such to a single use, is a significant departure from the mixed-use, small scale, private tax-paying "walkable" development envisioned in the Utica Master Plan -- a plan that was duly approved by the public's representatives after numerous public hearings. The Board's proposal not only threatens the viability of the Master Plan's vision for the remainder of Downtown, it also adversely impacts Utica's future financial sustainability. It was presumptuous on the part of the Board to propose a project of such magnitude Downtown without engaging the public first.
When we, the MVHS board, conducted the site evaluation process for the new hospital it was very thorough. The meetings were not held “in smoke-filled rooms.” There was open, candid and robust debate at each meeting. This “game changing” opportunity has been discussed at virtually every board meeting for nearly a year. Over the summer the MVHS board held two special meetings with a single topic: where best to site the new facility.The "open, candid and robust" debate occurring over a year and at two special meetings was anything but, since it was done in private without the participation of the public. It was arrogant for this Board to think it could make decisions on behalf of the public. As for the "not in smoke-filled rooms" comment, smoking has pretty much been banned -- but the concept contained in that phrase accurately reflects what has happened here.
As board members we shared our thoughts, differences of opinions and concerns. In the end, we voted for the downtown site. The vote was unanimous in favor of downtown provided we can do it in a fiscally responsible way.From this it is clear that the Board (1) is only concerned with its own financial stability and (2) will resist any costly modifications to its project that may be necessary to reduce adverse impacts to the rest of Downtown. Anyone wanting such modifications will be marginalized as threatening the loss of the $300 Million grant.
At our board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 24, we . . . also discussed the assertion that representatives of the #NoHospitalDowntown have made . . . This week we sent a letter, much like this one, to a representative of that site asking him to stop. He does not represent any of the MVHS board members or our organization.And you, MVHS Board, do not represent the public.
Our promise is to be as transparent as possible, understanding that this is a very complex project that will require input from community members, businesses and governmental agencies.Your promise, MVHS Board, is belied by your past behavior.
- - -
For another good read on the Downtown Hospital proposal, check out the Utica Phoenix!