Writer: Downtown hospital foes aren’t using fear and false data

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I am writing in response to County Executive Anthony Picente’s remarks from the State of the County address that appeared in the Daily Sentinel and Clinton Record.  In the article, Mr. Picente said there is a small yet vocal crowd using fear and false information.  I disagree with this characterization of the NoHospitalDowntown group, its founders and supporters.

There is a perception that the NHD group opposes the idea of constructing a new hospital. This is not true.  Since Aug. 2015, when the downtown Utica location became public, the group organized with the purpose to ask for disclosure of any preliminary plans and to make public any studies comparing the 64-acre campus at St. Luke’s and downtown Utica’s Columbia and Lafayette Streets. Those requests went unanswered and met with “it’s too early” or “’we are a private non-profit and technically not required to disclose our plans.”

Mr. Picente stated the ‘time for alternate site has long passed’ but at the speech and article publication, the final Environmental Impact Statement had not been officially approved and filed.  Part of that document is the review of alternate sites.

Regardless of the hospital and politicians acknowledging the poor handling of information, there are still valid concerns, especially in light of 700 Freedom of Information e-mails requested and received: 1) Disregard for valid public input.  2) Taxpayer garage obligation — $680,000 a year for 30 years, Utica’s 40% share and then the additional County 60% share.  3) Loss of tax-generated $275,000 a year, currently received from what will be the displaced property and business owners. 4) Financial cost and pain inflicted by eminent domain from City and County officials.

I take exception with County Executive Picente labeling some of his constituents as promoters of fear and false information.  Our services should be improved by reputation of care and not by pseudo-revitalization.

— Donna Beckett, Clinton

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