Questions surround downtown hospital garage


UTICA, NY (WUTR-TV) — As buildings are demolished and Mohawk Valley Health System breaks ground for a downtown hospital project, details about its parking garage are unclear.

The garage design, price tag and ownership have not been determined, as well as a finalization of how much Oneida County and the City of Utica will pay for it.

A previous estimate determined the facility would house 1,550 parking spaces, but Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says that could lessen, while staying above the 1,000-mark.

“It’s taken a little longer than we thought because we’ve been really evaluating the number of spots necessary–the way it’s going to lay out in this footprint.

In the fall of 2018, county legislators approved to fund the design of the garage, which is poised to sit on the north side of Lafayette Street between State and Cornelia streets.

The initial agreement to pay for the garage construction was a 60-percent backing from Oneida County, and a 40-percent commitment by the City of Utica.

When asked on Thursday if the city can afford to pay for 40-percent of the build, Mayor Robert Palmieri said “the city will be a partner in the parking garage.”

To what extent? Palmieri responded “that will be determined once we see what the cost is, and what is is.”

Regarding its ownership following construction, Picente said “that’s another question that we’ve been dealing with. We’ve been looking at different aspects of whether it is the county or MVHS, and what kind of agreements going in place with that.”

One existing hurdle to build a garage are the four property owners in its footprint who have said they won’t sell.

Among them are members of the anti-hospital project group “No Hospital Downtown.”

If MVHS is unable to buy these properties, the county will try.

Picente says the county has not yet begun negotiations, however they will occur in the start of 2020.

“We will literally within the next couple of weeks once we get through the holiday season, and we will proceed from there.”

If acquisition deals are not made, the county could seek to use eminent domain to acquire them.

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