Utica Backs Away from Funding Agreement for Downtown Utica Hospital Parking Garage
The City of Utica is backing away from a previously signed Memorandum of Agreement for partial funding of the Mohawk Valley Health System parking garage downtown.
That's according to Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
The MOA signed back in 2017 was not binding, but outlined the funding sources for the $40.5 million parking garage to be used primarily by the hospital, but would also be open to members of the public doing business downtown, heading out to dinner or attending events.
According to the MOA between Utica and Oneida County, the city would fund 40% of the remaining debt service on the garage - at that time estimated at approximately $400,000 per year for 30 years - with the county covering an estimated $600,000 over that term.
(A previous version of the post indicated the payments would be 300k for Utica and 500k for the county for a period of 20 years)
''Quite frankly, we have been delayed on this project, not just because of the pandemic which has delayed everything but also because a lot of this stuff should have been done months ago,'' Picente said. ''This agreement that I sent to the [Oneida County Board of Legislators] was supposed to go the them in November, but the board kept asking: 'Where's the city of Utica.' And...I couldn't get a straight answer...then I was given the answer that the there's no appetite from the council to do this project,'' he told WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning on Friday.
Expressing frustration with the change in direction, Picente said the county is now left to absorb Utica's share.
''We're [Oneida County] the one who suffered the revenue loss [during the pandemic] - we're the ones that paid for COVID-19 testing and vaccination PODs, we're still expending money on that. We lost sales tax revenue, lost gaming revenue, lost bed tax revenue, and spending millions of dollars of PPE for all levels of government, and stayed open every single day.''
That 2017 MOA also projected that the area would receive some $10 million in URI funding from New York State, with $3 million earmarked for repairs to Utica's Kenney Parking Garage. However, the county executive said he's since gone back to the state to get that $3 million redirected away from the Kennedy Garage, and it will now be used for the downtown hospital parking garage.
Additionally, Picente explained an additional fold in the parking garage 'dilema', saying he's aware of at least three lawsuits brought against the county by property owners who are in the footprint of the hospital parking garage, but who don't wish to sell their land.
Officials have planned to take control of those properties by using eminent domain.
Calls for comment from Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri had not been returned as of this posting. The mayor's Chief of Staff said a statement on the issue would be released sometime next week.
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