Dear, Editor:

“What difference would it make, really?”

Have you ever been asked a question that left you speechless for a moment? Recently, I was having a conversation about our recent “Heart Bombing- Love A Landmark” event and the historic buildings that we would lose if the new hospital was built downtown. I was a little surprised by that question so I tried to put a few things out there as food for thought.

As both a Landmarks member and a concerned taxpayer, I explained that there would be a number of differences if the hospital was built at the St. Luke’s campus. Many historic buildings would get an opportunity to be adaptively reused- just like many of the buildings in Bagg’s Square. Sadly, we have lost too many already to failed urban renewal projects. And the hospital will not add anything to the rebirth of our historic downtown. Also, think of all the owners who would not be forced, needlessly, to abandon their property and livelihood. How devastating do you think that will be to those folks? That reason alone should give everyone else-reason to pause and think differently about this downtown plan.

I kept the conversation going (although, I was the only one talking at this point) with the fact that using the shovel-ready acreage that the hospital already owns would eliminate the need to displace anyone. And the property was acquired way back when for expansion purposes.Originally Champlin Ave. and French Rd. were widened to handle more traffic- traffic that would be a result of an expansion project-or a new hospital.

Lastly, I asked how much money could be saved if the Mohawk Valley Health System did not have to purchase unneeded land, pay court fees from the pending litigation from the current property owners, demolish existing structures and prepare the work site because it is not shovel-ready?

Also, don’t forget that you and every other city and county taxpayer will be paying on the parking garage that needs to be squeezed in there for decades. And any architect or engineer will tell you that parking garages in the Northeast have a limited lifespan compared to the ones built in fairer climates. So when your finally done paying for it, you will then be asked to fund the repair or renovation of it. Or possibly even the replacement of it, depending on if the funds were there to maintain it in the first place.

Overall, the downtown hospital will be a very, very costly undertaking compared to doing the same thing at the current site of St. Luke’s Hospital.

In the end, I was very pleased to hear, “I did not realize so many factors were in play. There is a big difference when you compare the two sites”. Yes, there is and I can only hope more and more folks are starting to see the difference as well.

Steven Grant, President, Landmarks Society

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