As our area’s new regional healthcare campus in Downtown Utica continues to take shape—community meetings, a presentation to the Utica council December 6, two large community forums December 7—it’s encouraging to see so many of the project’s many, complex questions answered.
One milestone mentioned at the Utica council meeting caught our attention, since it has been a concern for the property owners within the project footprint. As described in media accounts, MVHS’s Bob Scholefield told the council that assessments have completed and property owners within the project footprint this week will receive letters detailing assessments and purchase offers. This is welcome news, since the uncertainty has been a burden for some of those property owners.
Meeting the needs of property owners—paying reasonable prices for their parcels, assisting them with relocation—is just one aspect of a years-long and multifaceted project that will benefit our entire area. And it’s fair to say that some property owners will welcome the opportunity to sell, while others will negotiate, and a few may decline any reasonable offer.
This time of year, many people of a certain age are fond of watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and for some people the hospital project is like another Frank Capra film, “You Can’t Take It With You.” A big, heartless corporation’s enormous urban project is blocked by property owners who don’t want to sell; a kindly old man saves the day; his granddaughter marries the hero; and even the callous businessman behind the evil project is redeemed.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, though, our situation isn’t a movie. MVHS isn’t a “big, heartless entity,” it’s our hospital—our friends, family and neighbors work there. Our children were born there. It’s our region’s future.
Yes, this is a big and complicated project, and all questions have not yet been answered. But the recent announcement of new information—including offers for property owners—shows that the project is moving forward, and that points to a future happy ending for our area. Maybe not a perfect ending, like in a Frank Capra film, but the kind of progress that will benefit everyone in our community for decades to come.