Some of the Utica City Council members were told they would be getting a tour of the facility this afternoon. Upon their arrival, they were told the tour was cancelled and they'd have to leave the premises immediately, otherwise we'd be forcibly removed. Some of the council members say the public being shut out is a dangerous trend and it's becoming far to common in Utica.
"The governors office invites us to be here and Kathleen Harren says that we cannot be here or she will have us removed," says Frank Vescera, Utica City Councilman.
"It's totally ridiculous and it's an embarrassment to the state of New York, and an embarrassment to the city," says Jim Zecca, Utica City Councilman.
"And I really believe this is such a dangerous trend. If this continues, the public will lose out, taxpayers will lose out and they should not accept it," says Vescera.
And this isn't the first time Frank Vescera was denied. Just last week, the councilman was censured for his use of a small video camera during the council's meetings. He says that's censorship.
But this time, the council had county and state approval to tour the abandoned building and still, they were told no.
"I am furious, I'm absolutely furious at the treatment of the council members, the treatment of the representatives of the county legislature, the private business developers that are interested in our city and that actually want to do the right thing," says Zecca.
"We weren't contacted to let us know that this was rescheduled or cancelled rather, so that leads me to believe that there is something left to be hidden and we need to find out what that is so that we can make sure we do have a tour and do have prospective developers come here," says Harmony Speciale, county legislator.
Eyewitness News reached out to a prospective developer. He didn't want to appear on camera but said he is interested in the building. Council members say the lack of action from the state is hurting our economy.
"What's happening here now is a stall and that is the worst thing that can happen because this building has been vacant since the mid 1990s," says Vescera.
Council members say develop or demolish - they just want action to be taken.
"Until we can get real access and really find out what shape that building is in, we don't have a developer and it's once again put on the back-burner," says Speciale.
"Either give us the money that you promised to demolish the building years ago or let it be developed but just to stall again, and put the public off, it's very regrettable," says Vescera.
Eyewitness News tried to contact officials at the psychiatric center but they refused to comment. We'll be bringing you more information as it becomes available.