LOOKING AHEAD — A landscaped urban campus with open spaces is part of the plan for the downtown Utica hospital project. The facility’s design will consider the city’s architectural character, surrounding neighborhoods and urban development initiatives. (Illustration submitted)

Certificate of need approved for downtown Utica hospital

Published Apr 13, 2018 at 4:00pm

The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) was notified today that the Certificate of Need application for the construction of the new healthcare campus was approved by the New York State Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council. 

The approval allows MVHS to contintue to move forward with the project which includes finalizing the design of the new facility, completing the New York State Environmental Quality Review process and completing property acquisition.

“We are extremely pleased that the NYSDOH has approved our CON application,” said Scott H. Perra, FACHE, president/CEO for MVHS. “This was an important and vital step in the project and keeps us within our original timeline to break ground in 2019. There is much work ahead of us and this step is critical to the project and our community.”

The certificate of need was initially filed in November 2017 and required at least 30 percent of the design of the new facility to be complete.

“The approval comes with some contingencies which are common for a project of this magnitude,” said Perra. “The SEQR process and acquisition of properties need to be completed before the CON is finalized. We anticipate both will be done by the end of 2018.”

The environmental review process began in February when MVHS filed a formal application for financial assistance from the Oneida County Local Development Corporation. The review requires each New York State agency preparing to spend discretionary state dollars on a project to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors.

The start of the environmental review process facilitates a comprehensive assessment of information to support an informed decision-making process for the project. This includes an analysis of the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts, as well as any mitigation that is required. 

MVHS and the law firm handling the property acquisition process. Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC (BSK), continue to work with the property owners to finalize the purchase-option agreements.

Of the 35 property owners representing 72 parcels of land in the downtown project footprint, not including parcels owned by the City of Utica:

  • 10 property owners have completed or are in the process of completing a signed, purchase-option agreement;
  • 17 property owners are in active negotiation with MVHS;
  • Five property owners have received purchase-option agreements but are not in active discussion with BSK or MVHS; and
  • Three property owners have indicated they are not interested in any type of agreement.

According to published reports, in the event that property owners refuse to sell their property in the new hospital’s footprint, two agencies will acquire the parcels through the use of eminent domain.

In the area of the planned parking garage, Oneida County will, if necessary, use eminent domain to acquire properties, while Utica’s Urban Renewal Agency would use eminent domain to acquire properties in the remaining area of the 25-acre project.