A new political party has been spawned, #NoHosptialDowntown and it intends to run candidates in upcoming elections in opposition of those who presently support the hospital to be built downtown.
#NHD began in 2015 as a local citizens’ and businessmen’s reaction and rejection to the intended building of a hospital by MVHS in the midst of the central business district of downtown Utica. On August 8, at ground zero of the intended site, members of the new political party, led by local businessman Jim Brock and co-founder of #NHD, gathered to sign and pledge their allegiance to maintain an intact contiguous downtown street grid. They also pledged to run against those politicians who continue to ignore what they call, ‘the will of the people.’
There has been a clear lack of transparency by MVEDGE and MVHS as to the process and scope of the site as well as to the people’s complaints of it being established downtown. By MVHS’s own admission, the St. Luke’s campus is the best alternative.
The claim that funding the project relies upon its being built in downtown Utica has been contradicted by the actual text of the state’s legislation. Jim Brock pointed out that the document calls for the construction to occur in the “major population center.”
Brock states that, “Nowhere in the legislation does it define what the largest population center means nor what criteria should be used to determine it. We have been threatened that if you don’t put it where we want it, we’ll pull the funding.”
Brock complained that the process has been devoid of input from the people. “Why don’t we have a voice?” he asked.
Frank Montecalvo, Former Administrative Law Judge, stated that an estimated $300,000 in yearly taxes will be lost upon the taking of properties through eminent domain.
Brock then references the past destruction of treasures in the heart of Utica through the Urban Renewal of the 60’s. “This hospital project should be called Urban Destruction on steroids”
In another related matter, Mr. Brock stated that on July 31, members of the MVHS board informed him that Steve DiMeo of MVEDGE called a meeting of MVHS along with Common Council members in a closed door session, to “brow beat” the Council members over supporting the parking garage to accompany the health system’s $480 million project. Samantha Colosimo-Testa, was the only council member not in attendance, thereby establishing a quorum of Council members discussing the peoples’ business.
Not only were Council and board members there but Scott Perra, CEO of MVHS, his attorney, former County Executive and State senator Ray Meier, counsel for the group and the public was not invited or included.
Brett Truett, co-founder of #NoHospitalDowntown, has called the meeting “illegal” and Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government has been contacted about the matter.
Freeman has said it’s not clear any law was broken.