Flaming trousers (part two)

Now that additional downtown hospital project information has been released, it’s time to take stock of the frequent concerns voiced by the relatively few who have called for more information.

“Current businesses” in the project zone, our fellow community members have claimed include “41 firms.” Looking in detail at the list and examining the claim of “41,” we arrived at a lower figure, taking into account:

  • The newly released information described in today’s front-page O-D story, which confirms that Rockford Auto; Eggers, Caryl & Corrigan; and North Country Books will remain outside the project footprint
  • The Utica Police building and the Utica City Courts building, which the hospital has said are not in the footprint
  • The businesses on the list of 41 that they were already closed or had moved: The Columbia, Dental Systems Group, Labor Ready/People Ready, John Bosco House
  • Businesses listed who had already made plans to move elsewhere: Compassion Coalition, Your Bargain Grocer
  • One business not in the footprint, but on the list of 41: Empire Kitchen and Bath

Subtracting these from the 41 “current businesses” our “no” friends claim will be affected brings us to 29. Without examining the remaining 29 in detail, we are obliged to point out that among that number are two “firms” (to use the term employed by our “no” friends) that may or may not be contributing to Downtown Utica’s growing economic recovery and vibrancy. We are referring to “Teasers II,” which some euphemistically refer to as a “gentlemen’s club”; and Bengees, which some of its fans and patrons refer to as a “dive bar.”

At any rate, up to 29 businesses. Not 41. And as for the 29, according to the O-D story, “The health system is asking Oneida County and the City of Utica to reach out to affected property owners to find out what support they could use.”

The difference between less than 30 and more than 40 could be put down to honest miscalculation and uncertainty, given the complexity of the project and its changing proposed boundaries over the last two years. But it puts us in mind of a quote, attributed to Benjamin Disraeli–and we know how much our “no” friends enjoy a good quote–that describes attempts to cloud an issue with numbers:

“Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

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