March 28, 2018
UTICA, NY – The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) today provided a property acquisition update for properties in the footprint of the new, regional healthcare campus. It was also announced that after an extensive search process, in consultation with project partners, The Community Foundation of Herkimer& Oneida Counties has hired a project coordinator for the MVHS Downtown Utica project.
MVHS and Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC (BSK), the law firm handling the property acquisition process, continue to work with the property owners to finalize the agreements. The most recent deadline for the purchase-option agreements for property owners within the footprint of the new, regional healthcare system ended on Thursday, March 15, 2018.
Of the 35 property owners representing 72 parcels of land in the downtown project footprint, not including parcels owned by the City of Utica:
- Seven property owners, representing 13 properties, have completed or are in the process of completing a signed, purchase-option agreement.
- Twenty property owners are in activate negotiation with MVHS.
- Six property owners have received purchase-option agreements but are not in active discussion with BSK or MVHS.
- Two property owners have indicated they are not interested in any type of agreement.
“We are pleased with the response we’ve received to this point and will continue our work with the property owners to finalize purchase-option agreements,” said Robert Scholefield, MS, RN, executive vice president/COO for MVHS. “Now that the deadline has passed, we will start looking at our options to acquire properties from the few property owners who have not responded, in the event we are unable to reach an agreement.”
New York State Law establishes the process used by an entity to acquire property under eminent domain.
“Although MVHS will be working to acquire as many properties as possible through negotiation and agreement, given the needs of the project, the use of eminent domain may be likely,” said Traci A. Boris, Esq., vice president and general counsel for MVHS. “We have just begun to look into our options with respect to eminent domain. MVHS, as a non-profit organization, does not have the authority to carry out this process, so we are working with elected officials to determine the process going forward. We are hopeful that by outlining this process, it provides more information for all property owners and we can come to an agreement on all the properties.”
New Project Coordinator
Joseph B. Wicks of Bouckville has been hired to help affected downtown businesses identify potential options and funding for relocation. In addition to acting as a central point of contact for the downtown property owners, he will act as a community liaison for a work group, comprised of representatives of the Governor’s Office, Oneida County, City of Utica, Mohawk Valley EDGE, MVHS and The Community Foundation.
Wicks, who previously served as Community Engagement Lead Coordinator & Grant Manager for Integrated Community Planning, Inc., of Oswego County, has more than a decade of experience in program development and coordination, business and community stakeholder engagement and related advocacy work. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
As previously announced, the work group and project coordinator will meet regularly to support the continued progress for the project and the downtown property owners. Wicks will also work with MVHS, MV EDGE and community stakeholders on the development of reuse plans for the repurposing of the St. Elizabeth and St. Luke’s campuses.