Thursday, August 17, 2017

Downtown Hospital Deja Vu . . .

For those on Facebook, Robin Raabe had a thought provoking post a couple days ago detailing her experiences running a business during the Arterial project as indicating what Downtown businesses will face during a hospital construction project.
"We have been stunted in our growth, we have lost 20-30% of our customer base & sales . . . For the betterment of the City with the Arterial Project, we had become on the verge of collateral damage in the face of progress. As a stand-alone business surrounded by road work, noise, dirt, road closures, re-directs, & general lack of accessibility, we have been at the brink of non-existence. We know that additionally, there are no less than 3 other small businesses directly affected by the road work. Think of that.. this is "just road work". What will 8 plus years of building a hospital/ parking garage/ traffic pattern routing, and more do to the businesses surrounding the proposed work area, let alone the 40 plus businesses that will be sacrificed for the job."
It was deja vu listening to the Common Council the other night claim they "had not made up their minds" on the hospital and offered to meet with representatives of the No Hospital Downtown and Better Utica Downtown groups to understand their concerns. We heard the same things when the Arterial was under consideration.

A number of us fought the Arterial project because of the permanent erosion of the tax base (70+ parcels off the tax rolls), closure of businesses, permanent closure of Sunset Ave and Warren St. as cross streets, and the construction of a wall across the neighborhood. No one wanted to listen, especially the City Council. Their fear of losing a $60M project proved greater than their fear of dividing a neighborhood, making the local street grid more difficult to navigate, losing businesses and jobs, and decreasing the tax base. 

The same Dynamics appear to be in play now with the Downtown Hospital -- magnified five fold.

Fear of losing the project is going to drive the decision-making.