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Let's Save Utica From Utica

Joseph P. Bottini, May 12, 2019

Who Is Going to be that 11th Hour Hero for Utica?

Is there no one with enough chutzpah to stand up and save Utica from Utica?

Utica has tried to rejuvenate itself with sophomoric schemes for past 60 years.

They have not worked. Neither will this most recent wild notion: downtown hospital.

1950 Urban Renewal (nation-wide fiasco) begun in the 1960s in England.

Bleecker Street Urban Renewal gained little; lost a lot.

Genesee Street Urban Renewal gained a hotel, lost a lot.

Rout 5 – Oriskany project – being done for the third time, gained little, lost a lot.

Bagg’s Square bridge project gained nothing, lost a lot.

The Bagg’s Square Corridor was a throw-away neighborhood full of blight and run-down property so it was decided best to bypass it and bring folks from the thruway and north country straight to downtown.

It did not work - as I predicted many, many years ago. By the way, the county has stepped it up big-time and the Bagg’s Square Corridor is blossoming.

Now we have another circus in town.

Only, this act is only good enough for a one-tent sideshow. The clowns told a tale (I know them even with their painted faces) and each rube plunked down his/her integrity and entered to see the much-ballyhooed freak show.

Just as the barker’s ballyhoo dragged in the “fish” from the rural communities looking for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see what one can now experience on Main Street in any hamlet in America, the ballyhoo today in Utica is dragging in folks for the once-in-a-life-time opportunity to have a state-of-the-art hospital.

Again, using the old political banter of it being the panacea for a much-needed rejuvenated city in conjunction with folks who are willing to play the game, for whatever reason, folks are buying into the sham. Only today the “carney folk” come dressed in suits displaying a pseudo-sophisticated persona.

By the way, a hospital is only one part of a complete healthcare complex. The St. Luke’s site would give all the elements of a complete healthcare community that the Columbia-Lafayette (CoLa) district is incapable of providing.

To saddle the citizen-taxpayers of Oneida County with a huge dept for the next 50 years (under the pretext of what they are trying to sell) is nothing more than a sin against humanity.

It would take men and women of courage, statesmen and stateswoman with the conviction of wanting to do the right thing (simply because it is the right thing to do). They must be willing to stand up and risk being a leader with a modicum of courage to the point of committing political suicide from the political parties and the state powers that control them. “To thine own self be true.”

Every person who knows all the facts and makes an honest heart-felt comparison between the two locations proposed for the new hospital will come to the same conclusion: a hospital within a complete healthcare complex could only be created at the Champlin Ave site.

It would be supported and enhanced by the Utica Business Park, with its many medical offices and testing facilities. Buildings for medical offices, clinics, medical training facilities in conjunction with Utica College, a hotel, a shopping plaza (with a drugstore, super market and a restaurant) available for visitors – all within walking distance.

Is there no one who will stand up and recuse Utica from the power at the state level?

Is there no one who will forget about one’s individual election to an office none of you need for survival?

What are you all hanging onto?

After three successful campaigns for a local school board I was asked to run again. I declined because after eight years, the accomplishments were few and the hours were many. The reason for this situation is the state’s control over education beyond the minuscule input from the local district.

Yeah, big deal. I was a school board member which gave me some gravitas in the community. That alone could not keep me banging my head against a stone wall in hopes of loosening some of the state stones. Feeling comfortable with the administrative team in place and some of the tenured board members in office, I felt it necessary to save my head from further damage and decline another term.

If you don’t need the gravitas, or the remuneration, or the ego thing; give it up and stand up for Utica.

Save Utica from another type of disastrous solution to its rejuvenation; another urban renewal fiasco, another highway to nowhere, and another bridge that ate the birthplace-neighborhood of Utica.

Dig deep into your inner soul and evaluate your position on this issue.

Make a decision that will indicate you have a desire to do what is better than something for self. Be a “we person” and stop the “me person” syndrome.

Some of the labor union members I spoke with, who all for the downtown site, didn’t make sense. They said, “We need the work potential. Someone convinced the labor leaders that if it isn’t built downtown, it won’t get built and the laborers will lose work potential. The labor leaders bought this lie and passed it on to the laborer union members who bought it hook, line and sinker. I didn’t know that. And I didn’t know they pay more to lay brick in Utica than they do in New Hartford.

I have been privy to conversations by members of the Common Council and the representatives on the Oneida County Legislature and both feel a vote for the St. Luke’s site is a vote against Utica because the hospital would then be in New Hartford. “How would we look representing Utica and then voting against Utica?”

And like a good friend of mine who loves Utica said, “It is time Utica got something. Why should everything go to New Hartford?”

Utica will get more in the field of healthcare if it is built at the St. Luke’s site than if it is built in the CoLa area. This is an area project, an Oneida County and beyond project.

And it will save Utica from another dead-mass of blighted concrete, steel and congestion; while at the same time saving some of Utica’s vital history - so much has already been executed.

Certainly, there could be lots of information I don’t know that might lead me to a different conclusion. But that is not my fault. Shame on the government leaders and the Mohawk Valley Healthcare Service leaders for not sharing it with me.

Yes, one does not know what one does not know. But one does know what one knows and that is all one can depend on at the moment.

Prevent more history from being destroyed in Utica. Stand up and be counted.

Let’s save Utica from Utica.

Email: Joseph P. Bottini, Oneida County Historian

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No Studies, No Reports, thus we remain #NoHospitalDowntown