Downtown Utica Hospital, But At What Cost?

Joseph P. Bottini, August 8, 2016

When a decision has to be made, those making the decision must follow a reasonable protocol; not use raw emotion or political consideration by themselves.

There are usually two sides, options, or choices. Create a comparative chart using the choices at the top axis. List the category considerate-items down the side axis.

Before one tries to decide where to put a new “medical hospital” a decision must be reached whether a new consolidated hospital is a wise move. Perhaps, the decision making system ought to be used to determine this question before one continues to determine where it ought to be created.

However, let us agree the majority of the medical community has come to the conclusion that medical facilities ought to be consolidated. With the State offering $300, 000, 000 and the total cost estimate is $600,000,000 one must first determine if raising the other $300,000,000 is feasible for Utica to accomplish.

We have learned there are only two options: St. Luke’s campus in New Hartford and a newly created tract of space in downtown Utica (west side).

Even before this step is taken, we must understand what the requirements of the “grant money” from the State dictate. Is there a stipulation that the site must be in an “Urban Center” or not. If so, decision is a little bit simpler. Of course, Utica could annex that portion of New Hartford that would be used for creating a hospital. With an annexation, would the St. Like’s site be considered “urban center” or is the intension of the requirement that it be located downtown?

With those two sites in contention, one must develop categories for comparison such as: cost, transportation availability, space, tax base implication, destruction of good properties, property ownership, relocation of existing businesses or municipal groups (police), others.

Are there other costs for moving businesses in one that are not in the other choice?

Are there infrastructure costs in one and not in the other? (one is presently shovel-ready and the other needs much infrastructure upgrades) Are the existing transportation routes more readily available in one over the other choice? Running emergency vehicles through the city to a hospital would present a time factor and a safety factor. Straight, low traffic access roads to one site are an advantage over the other. What would be the cost of moving our police facilities, including a relatively new maintenance garage?

It would be shortsighted if the thought process were just about a new hospital. What is really needed to get us into the 22nd century is a Medical Complex including: parking garage, emergency flight pad, nursing school, radiology occupations, nursing (home) facility, medical office complex, laboratory facility, research center, testing center with all clinics such as: kidney dialysis, physical fitness, physical therapy, heart cauterization lab, sleep clinics, emergency facilities, urgent care offering, full X-ray-sonogram-MRI. Some of the above is already in place at one of the sites with Utica College in the neighborhood for partnering for some of the academics required in preparation for some of the other training and/or degreed professional occupations.

This community has made two huge blunders that we are living with due to rushed and/or weighted decisions. The monstrosity bridge at Bagg’s Square has obliterated the Square and destroyed many properties in the process, truncated access to our multi-million dollar transportation center, and camouflaged our federal building (and Commercial Travelers) that would lend themselves to a more beautiful and living entrance to our city from the north beyond that which we presently face.

Of course, at the time of that decision, Bagg’s Square area was considered a throw-a-way neighborhood full of blight with the desire to avoid it and bypass its ugliness. No vision brought this colossal mistake. Now, 40 years later, we are “paying the piper” for our foolish thinking without proper vision for what could be over what seemed to be. But, it did solve an immediate problem for the moment; that is, getting traffic trough the ugliness without folks seeing it.

Then came the roundabout. Yes, roundabouts are very useful in moving traffic without traffic light delays. However, in our haste, and I might add because of some political entanglement, a roundabout was shoehorned into a space much too small for the goal intended.

We could look at other quick decisions that solved one problem, but created others including much fallout of regrets. Yes, I am talking about the old city hall, one of a kind Richard Upjohn structure. A residence of the 27th Vice President of the United States, and a governor’s mansion have also fallen to the wrecking ball by impatient, no-vision political officials.

There is no doubt; a hospital downtown would fix a serious problem with the infrastructure in that west Utica region. Wow, new sewers, water and storm lines, electrical upgrades, new roads, would all be a plus for Utica.

BUT, at what costs in the future?

Email: Joseph P. Bottini, Oneida County Historian

Return to Mr. Bottini's Main Page

No Studies, No Reports, thus we remain #NoHospitalDowntown