By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer

The proposed downsizing of the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric center in Utica was a recurring topic at Wednesday’s meeting of the county Board of Legislators.

The planned shutdown of two adult inpatient wards and moving a third one to Syracuse has sparked concern about the possible impact on the affected patients and their families. Additionally, the move would mean the loss of nearly 140 jobs locally.

The effort by the state Office of Mental Health to eliminate excess capacity across the state came up three times at Wednesday’s meeting. The lawmakers:

¿ Were signing a petition urging the state to consolidate mental health operations at the Utica facility instead of Syracuse’s Hutchings Psychiatric Center.

The main reason for the plea being that the Syracuse facility needs a reported $19 million to bring it up to code standards while no such deficiencies exist at the Utica site, according to supporters of the local facility. The document is being sent to the governor and other state officials.

¿ Heard three speakers during the public comment portion of the meeting argue against ending the adult inpatient services at Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center by closing the two wards and moving a third one.

Tim Trent urged the lawmakers to support public hearings by the appropriate committees at the state Legislature.

¿ Listened as Legislator Harmony Speciale, D-22, Utica, urged her colleagues to support efforts to halt the ward closings.

"There are some very bad politics going on here," she said.