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Mayoral candidates speak out on fate of St. E’s

Thomas Caputo
Staff writer
Posted 2/14/23

All eyes are on the St. Elizabeth Medical Center as officials with Mohawk Valley Health System and the city of Utica determine the best option on what to do with the campus once it closes.

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Mayoral candidates speak out on fate of St. E’s


UTICA — All eyes are on the St. Elizabeth Medical Center as officials with Mohawk Valley Health System and the city of Utica determine the best option on what to do with the campus once it closes.

Upon the opening of the Wynn Hospital, tentatively scheduled to open in October, officials with MVHS have confirmed that both St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare will immediately shut down.

In a joint effort to decide what would be best for the St. Elizabeth Medical Center, officials with MVHS and the city of Utica announced a strategic partnership on Jan. 28 to develop a master reuse plan.

“As we begin our expansion of our downtown campus, MVHS wants to remain committed to its obligations to repurpose the existing campuses, both at St. Elizabeth and St. Luke’s campus in New Hartford,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at MVHS Bob Scholefield said during the press conference announcing the partnership on Jan. 28.

During the partnership announcement, officials with MVHS have stated they have no comments to make regarding Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare.

The four Utica mayoral candidates, Robert Cardillo, Celeste Friend, Frank DiBrango and Michael Galime, have all provided their input on what they believe should be done with the St. Elizabeth Medical Center campus and the over 100-year-old hospital building.

“All options in regards to St. Elizabeth campus should be on the table at this point,” DiBrango said.

“This is an opportunity for the city to solidify the south Utica neighborhood and give the current residents some reassurance that the campus will be put to good use. I look forward to all input in regards to redevelopment and am willing to provide as much assistance as I can on behalf of the residents of south Utica,” DiBrango added.

Friend noted that a housing study was commissioned by the city’s administration last year, which compared the cost of both rehabilitation and demolition of the medical campus buildings, citing lower project costs with demolition while also tackling the need for housing.

“That study recommended that we use the large parcel of land at St. E’s for a brand new neighborhood of single-family, middle class houses, comparable with the surrounding old neighborhoods designed by Olmstead,” Friend said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build exactly the kind of neighborhood that will attract young families to our city and I’m excited for that opportunity.”

While officials with MVHS and the city of Utica have previously stated they will determine the best option for the St. Elizabeth’s campus buildings with all stakeholders in mind, Galime has been a vocal advocate for what the neighbors of the campus desire.

“The residents’ concerns need to be the priority woven into the plan for St. E’s campus,” Galime said.

“Taking down the facility and subdividing into building lots in line with the zoning contiguous to it is a strong consistent voice from the surrounding residents. ... What’s certain [is that] MVHS and the municipalities driving the downtown hospital development are all accountable to Utica in this,” Galime added.

Cardillo is the only mayoral candidate who has come out against any potential demolition of the buildings at the St. Elizabeth campus.

“I believe that the original structure should not be torn down,” Cardillo said. “Such historic buildings bring value to south Utica and the city and should be parlayed to attract professional developers that compete to maintain the integrity of the original parcel, while presenting appropriate ideas for the redevelopment of the campus.”

While all four mayoral candidates have spoken out to provide their input on the fate of the south Utica hospital, it is ultimately up to both MVHS and the city’s current administration to make the final decision based on the data and input they believe reflects the best way to handle the property, officials said.

If a decision still has not been made by the time a newly-elected mayor is sworn in, officials with MVHS have confirmed they are willing to continue their partnership with the next administration.


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