Environmental review process begins on Utica hospital project


Mohawk Valley Health System’s application seeking assistance for its downtown Utica hospital project was accepted unanimously by Oneida County Local Development Corp. Board on Friday.

MVHS is a seeking $175 million of tax-exempt bonding and mortgage recording tax abatement.

The application sets in motion the required State Environmental Quality Review process, often called SEQR. As part of SEQR, each state agency preparing to spend discretionary state dollars on a project must consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors, according to MVHS.

The state has committed $300 million to the project whose overall cost is expected to be in the neighborhood of $480 million.

“SEQR enables us to embark on an organized approach to identify and assess a number of detailed project components in order to make informed decisions as we continue to move forward,” said MVHS President and CEO Scott H. Perra.

The review includes an analysis of the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts, as well as any mitigation required to minimize or avoid them. MVHS anticipates that a lead agency will be designated to manage the review. The lead agency will oversee preparation of a draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS.

The SEQR process provides several opportunities for public comment, including:

  • Participation in identifying any potentially significant adverse impacts related to the project that will be addressed in the draft EIS.
  • Accessibility to and review of SEQR documents.
  • Opportunity for submission of comments and questions related to environmental impacts.
  • Participation in a SEQR hearing to provide substantive comments on the content of the draft EIS.

O’Brien & Gere Engineering, Syracuse, has been hired by the Mohawk Valley Health System to work on the SEQR review. The process could take as long as a year.

On a separate track, MVHS has applied for a certificate of need from the state Health Department.

The property acquisition process for the new downtown Utica hospital is moving ahead too. Offers are contingent on the state’s granting of the required certificate of need.

The new hospital would replace the two inpatient facilities, Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center. It will be a 672,000-square-foot facility on 25 acres in the vicinity of the Utica Police Department and Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The new hospital is projected to have 373 beds and a 1,550-car parking garage.


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