By Orin Domenico
June 26, 2017
America's current form of government might quite accurately be called kleptocracy (that is rule by thieves). The neoliberals and neocons who occupy the halls of power in Washington and in Albany are dedicated to stealing everything they can lay their greedy hands on for themselves and their corporate sponsors. For them, the will and welfare of the people, the commonwealth, is not even an after thought.
The proposed downtown Utica hospital is a perfect example of the sort of kleptocratic project our ruling thieves love, and the process they have followed in launching it is a textbook example of the way they like to operate, forming commissions of “experts” and making vital decisions about the future of our communities without public discussion or input. By the time we citizens (consumers in their lingo) hear of these projects in splashy front-page articles, they are done deeds. If we dare to raise objections we are treated derisively, dismissed and told to go home, keep quiet and to let the experts make all the decisions.
Thus, the ongoing, increasingly will-organized resistance to the downtown hospital is the most important political activism that has gone on locally in the past half century or so. No upstate, post-industrial, rust-belt city has been more decimated by ill-conceived urban renewal projects than Utica, whose gap-toothed downtown area has been so chopped up that bringing it back to prosperity has been a nearly impossible project. The project of bringing downtown back might as well be abandoned for good if the downtown hospital is built. The blocks of old buildings they propose to tear down for the hospital along with Bagg's Square are Utica's last hope for a walkable, diversified commercial and residential downtown. They are the district that should form a walking connection between Bagg's Square and the Varick Street Brewery District.
Successful downtown projects, like those ongoing in Troy and Schenectady use the existing, non-replaceable older buildings to form contiguous walkable blocks of small street levels shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. A massive campus project like the proposed hospital is the opposite approach to the organic, bottom-up, creative and locally driven development that we need.
I commend Jim Brock, Brett Truett, the Landmarks Society and other leading the fight against the downtown hospital and urge all of my fellow citizens to let their voices be heard and to join the struggle. This is not a partisan, Democrat vs Republican or liberal vs conservative thing; it's a Utica thing. Help save Utica for the common good. Let the people's will prevail.
Look at all the hospital would destroy: Pictures on Flickr or Watch On YouTube Sadly, they're first step would to bulldoze 34-acres, which would look like this: Bye-Bye Columbia Lafayette Neighborhood