"We're certainly on our way to building this new hospital for this region," said Mohawk Valley Health System President & CEO Scott Perra.
MVHS leaders say their Certificate of Need application has been approved for the proposed downtown Utica hospital. It comes one day after city and Oneida County lawmakers announced they were ready to use eminent domain to push the project forward.
"I can't help but stress the issue of last resort here, no body wants to go down this route," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
In the proposed downtown site, there are 72 parcels of land. That's made up of 35 property owners, not including the city. As of last month, three property owners were *not interested in completing a purchase-option agreement. Eminent domain would allow the county and city to acquire the private proprieties for "public use" with payment or compensation. And the certificate of need allows the Mohawk Valley Health System to move forward with property acquisition.
"As they continue, they'll purchase these properties. Now if one or two or three are left with still resistance then I suppose this is not the desired outcome," said Picente.
For those that oppose the project, they say the recent announcements are merely talk.
"On every level this is nothing more than smoke and mirrors again by those focused on using it to scare the remaining property owners into signing those demand letters," said #NoHospitalDowntown Co-Founder Jim Brock.
They plan to take their concerns to federal court.
"Because this is a question of a government agency taking a private property to give to another private entity," said Brock.
Developers say they cannot secure property until the State's Environmental Quality Review process is complete. The certificate of need allows them to finalize this process.