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The Great Downtown Heist

July 21, 2019
By: Brett B Truett

What I’ve Heard

Brett you are negative, you are being used, you have a political agenda, you are against progress, you are hiding something - unseen and nefarious - behind your motivations in opposing the downtown hospital.

And also, "Brett you just can’t see the amazing potential of a $300M shot in the arm for Downtown Utica", you don’t care about this “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to improve healthcare, “Where were you and your group for the past thirty years?”, and your ideas about downtown and the Columbia Lafayette Neighborhood are foolish.

These are all the things I’ve been told directly, or heard via third parties, for 3.8 years. Those, plus a couple ugly theories as to why I’m so obsessed with #NoHospitalDowntown.

I’ll tell you here, these comments are totally off-the-mark and wrong! Also the last suggestion above has not been illustrated to me to be foolish. Conversely, considerable research only strengthen my belief that my ideas on downtown and CoLa are not foolish, nor wrong.

What I Believe

I’ve come to believe politicians manufactured Utica’s need for an entirely brand new hospital facility. They successfully attracted; special interests, individuals, businesses, other politicians, institutions, community organizations and groups. They’ve used various pots of public funds to push their concept - all without public input.

You might say, what about the public “listening sessions” held by the hospital? No, these were years late and long after downtown was preordained by an unseen force. What about the SEQR "public hearings" you say? Nope, just small speed bumps for them. You see these backers of the downtown hospital have political strongholds on state agencies, as well as local and city committees.

Long before the public was aware, they hired firms to produce outcomes to support a downtown hospital. Together they upended, twisted and ignored legally prescribed processes and it continues to this very day.

To gain traction and to oppose #NoHospitalDowntown, they’ve used influence to persuade other organizations to deploy both funding and staffs to aid them in their downtown hospital quest; most notably The Community Foundation.

And just as they hoped, their simple idea ballooned into a $1 billion concept, a long drawn-out debate over location. Its been made even more confounding and financially murky by; adding in unknown implications of changing "footprints", traffic issues, the growing AUD, legal challenges, displacement of our police department and city courts, business relocations, etc. Wow, what a successful campaign it’s been for them!

Tellingly, not a single organization or person of real relevance on the “yes side” has asked me for a sit down so to understand my passion. A couple lower level people spent time trying to convince me to support the downtown hospital, but these facts only suggest to me that I’m living in a place where my past and potential contributions are not valued. While this doesn’t necessarily anger me (I’m not an overly proud person), it does further prove to me - without a doubt - the downtown hospital is just a political strategy. It is a political strategy to use healthcare as a tool, one that has now manifested itself into a huge real estate grab.

A Look Back And A Conclusion

At my core since 1986, I was in fact dreaming of impacting Downtown Utica. Living on the 10th floor of Hotel Utica, going to college in downtown, documenting my inventions, and eventually becoming involved with the Chamber, the Genesis Group and numerous other community efforts. Working in downtown, eventually starting a business, buying real estate, and finally more recently investing significant personal wealth into downtown.

Observing our downtown, our community and the world from many different lenses since 1986, I was in a unique place when Jim Brock called in August 2015. The call followed growing up in three states, having 14 physical addresses by age 16, attending two SUNY colleges (Morrisville and Utica) to study Mechanical Engineering Technology, working for a Utica startup and also a 100-year old manufacturer (Frankfort, New York), obtaining five patents, and traveling 24 times to China to establish a Shanghai office.

So back to the top of this essay, what they guessed were my reasons for opposing the downtown hospital are all wrong. What I see are people trying to steal a large part of my already small downtown and thus the title, "The Great Downtown Heist." A year ago, my 17-year old stepson unprovokingly commented as we drove through downtown, "I wish downtown was bigger!" While he's not been to Shanghai, he's seen Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, San Francisco, and Portland. Anyway, I agree with him and ceratinly making Downtown Utica smaller is a grave mistake and that's just what their 34-acre hospital district would do!

Last week I was told we need to tell the story behind the hospital from a different angle. “You need to get the public both informed and angered. You must tell the story in such a way it will be like them hearing, "Your spouse is cheating on you! Now what are you going to do about it?”

Some people that I meet are put off by my #NoHospitalDowntown cofounder Jim Brock. To me, he’s a great man. Yes Jim's outspoken and perhaps too unapologetic for some, but Jim's smart and has done his homework on this issue. Jim came to me with a story that made me instantly angry, “Brett they want to bulldoze downtown for a hospital!” My wife wasn’t cheating on me, but his news was equally impactful and that’s why I’m a member of #NoHospitalDowntown.

From where I stand, your government is cheating you, now what are you going to do about it?

Brett B Truett

You can help, please join us on Facebook #NoHospitalDowntown. Also consider adding your voice to Hundreds of People Saying, "No Hospital Downtown". Get to know BUD, that's the future of the Columbia Lafayette Neighborhood!

No Studies, No Reports, thus we remain #NoHospitalDowntown