Yesterday afternoon I attended the Mohawk Valley Health System's public information session on the new downtown hospital. If MVHS can be personified, Mr. Perra's presentation came across as "It's all about me." MVHS gave its criteria to Mohawk Valley EDGE which developed a list of potential sites and, at this point, public input is only wanted on issues such as "will there be a prayer space in the hospital?"
OF COURSE. The hospital is looking out for itself. But who looked out for the public's interest in site selection?
The slide at the left from the presentation tells us who was responsible -- but the answer to the question is "no one."
One visibly irate observer (per the OD photo it was Mr. Critelli, but the OD never printed his question) stood up and asked the obvious question on most people's minds "Who in the city approved this site?" Mayor Palmieri got up and took responsibility.
Mayor Palmieri and, indeed, all the officials and agencies named at left have assumed powers they simply do not have.
Utica has a duly enacted Master Plan that calls for a mixed-use walkable neighborhood where MVHS wants to put the Hospital. The Master Plan is consistent with the "Gateway Historic District" legislation passed below in 2005, a zoning ordinance, that defines the forms of construction permitted on the site. These documents represent the Will of the People and describe the public's interest. From all that has been revealed about the project thus far, the proposed hospital complies with neither.
Nor do they have the authority to close and sell the blocks of city streets that will be occupied by the hospital.
Nor do they have the authority to offer for sale the properties of the businesses who already occupy the site -- businesses which pay city, county, school and sales taxes and which employ people.
Nor do they have the authority to approve of a particular site from those that are available without the studies and public involvement required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act to ensure that the site selected minimizes environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable.
We either live under the rule of law or we live in a dictatorship.
Simply put, EDGE had no authority to offer, and the elected officials and public agencies had no authority to approve of, the downtown site. Their decision is void ab initio.
Shame on them!