Given the large expenditure of Public funds to be spent to implement this project, WHAT, IF ANY, criteria were used to ensure that the PUBLIC'S INTEREST was being protected in the choice of a site?
Under what circumstances would placing this hospital downtown be acceptable? In other words, what criteria should our de facto regional planning agency, MV EDGE, have used (but did not) during site selection to protect the PUBLIC's Interest? Here is my personal list (and you may have more):
- ZERO impact to the local taxpayers -- i.e., no money for parking garage, replacement of police garage, environmental remediation, site assembly and preparation, and no net removal of properties from the tax rolls (e.g, if $2M of properties come off the tax rolls in the CoLa neighborhood, then an equal amount of properties must be placed ON the tax rolls (perhaps at the St. E. Site.))
- ZERO impact to existing businesses - no business losses, no job losses, no loss to personal wealth -- and that the businesses' existing/reasonable potential plans for expansion be accommodated.
- ZERO impact to the street grid. -- i.e., NO closures that would negatively change street circulation and make Utica's street grid less navigable or would make anyone's property more difficult to access.
- TOTAL consistency with not only the letter but the VISION for Utica's downtown as OFFICIALLY ENACTED in the Zoning Ordinance, the Existing Pattern of Development, Gateway District Regulations, and the Utica Master Plan.
- A demonstration that the Downtown Site better meets the specific criteria of Public Health Law Sec. 2825-B (the criteria for the grant) than the MVHS "back-up" site on the St. Luke's Campus.
- Being outside the now infamous "RED" evacuation zone extending 1/2 mile from active railroad tracks - to ensure that if the unthinkable unlikely event of a hazardous rail accident were to occur, it would not require evacuation of the region's ONLY hospital.
Since the Site Study has not been made public, and there has been no articulation in any of the FOILed E-Mails between County Government, other officials, and EDGE that anyone insisted on any particular criteria to protect the Public Interest, IT CAN BE PRESUMED THAT NO CRITERIA TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST WERE APPLIED TO THE SITE SELECTION PROCESS.
The FOILed e-mails make perfectly clear that the Governor was already committed to a new hospital in the Utica area, that MVHS was "guided" to the Downtown Site by EDGE, and that Mr. Brindisi, Mr. Picente, Mr. Palmieri, and others who were intimately involved with this choice, made no attempt to even ascertain how an improper siting could adversely affect the Public, much less than insist on criteria to protect the Public Interest. Instead . . .
- They applied their personal notions of what would be "best" for Utica, rather that accept the guidance of Utica's officially enacted planning documents.
- They applied their personal notions of what would be "best" for Utica: that it would be OK to burden local taxpayers with this project, that it would be OK to cause losses to business owners and their employees, and that it would be OK to disrupt traffic patterns.
- They applied their personal notion that it would be "best" for the hospital to be Downtown without EVER considering the STATE's GOALS and criteria.
- They even went so far as to determine that it would be OK to place what will be Greater Utica's ONLY hospital within an evacuation zone should an unlikely and unthinkable event happen.
WHO LOOKED OUT FOR THE PUBLIC'S INTEREST IN SITE SELECTION????