The Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy is seeking support from City Council for upcoming festivals - though what kind of support it is looking for remains to be seen.
During Monday night's City Council work session, Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy-Desi Center, spoke about the progress the festival has made over the course of its years.
"Our goals in presenting to City Council were to update them on the progress of the festival and the organization, and ask for their support as a partner," Gunderson told The Post-Journal.
During her presentation, Gunderson said the center needs more support because it cannot continue to put on Lucy Fest alone. Over the last several years, the Lucy Festival has received more than $33,000 from the county to help with marketing and promotion.
"We could not have done this without those funds ... We are here to ask for your feedback, but also to ask for your support going forward, so we can continue our momentum," Gunderson said Monday.
Greg Rabb, D-At-Large, president, said City Council was happy to hear the presentation about the work the center is doing. He said he supports everything the Lucy-Desi Center has been doing and continues to do.
1991 The city/JURA appropriated $120,000 to purchase the vacant Erie Lackawanna Train Station on West Second Street as the location for the Lucy-Desi Museum National Comedy Hall of Fame
1991 The city/JURA commissioned Zalisk & Martin to perform an $80,000 Lucy-Desi Museum National Comedy Hall of Fame feasibility study/plan
1991 City/JURA staff assisted the Arts Council officials to secure financial aid from local foundations to underwrite the first three Lucy Comedy Festivals
1992 JURA established a revolving line of credit to help the Lucy-Desi Museum cash flow headliner acts for the annual comedy festivals. Top name acts secured with these funds have included: The Smothers Brothers, Bob Newhart, Lewis Black, Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, Ray Romano and George Wallace
1992 - 1995 City/JURA staff assisted Arts Council officials in securing the first two waves of Lucy memorabilia from the Arnaz family. Many of these artifacts became the basis for the initial museum and the balance of the items were auctioned to create seed money for the initial museum project and to cover expenses associated with the early comedy festivals
1995 The city packaged together the Ellicott Building on East Third Street, Black Bear Court on Third and Pine Street and 212 Pine St. for redevelopment purposes. The site was sold to the developer by JURA with the stipulation that the 212 Pine St. location would be donated for use as the Lucy-Desi Museum. Enhancements included significant property cost write-downs, a $100,000 JLDC loan, Downtown Greenlining Facade rebate of $10,000 per storefront and Downtown Rental Rehab grant funding
1995 JURA recommissioned and paid Zalisk & Martin $10,000 to produce a scaled-down version of the Train Station Comedy Museum plan for the 212 Pine St. location
2005 JURA executed a contract to sell the Rite-Aid building on West Third Street to Community Development Association for $1,000 with the stipulation that the property would be used for an expanded Lucy-Desi Museum. The appraised value of the building was $68,000, with a credit write down of $67,000
2005 JURA executed a contract to sell the vacant, former Brostrom's parking lot on North Main Street to Community Development Association for $15,000 to support the redevelopment of the former Rite-Aid building
2007 The city secured a New York Main Street Grant of $100,000 to assist with the move of the Lucy-Desi Museum from 212 Pine St. into the former W.T. Grant Building on West Third Street
2007 The city successfully appeals to the state to modify the approved New York Main Street Grant of $100,000 to assist with the move and expansion of the Lucy-Desi Museum from 212 Pine St. into the former Rite-Aid building on West Third Street
2007 JURA provides $48,735 of Community Development Block Grant funds to upgrade the sound system in the Reg Lenna Civic Center, which serves as the location for various Lucy-Desi events
2008 The city/JURA provides a Downtown Handicapped Accessibility Improvement Grant of $29,429 for the Lucy Museum/Rite-Aid building project
2008 The city/JURA provides a Downtown Facade Grant of $15,000 for the Lucy Museum/Rite-Aid building project
1992 - Present The city has outright contributed and/or reduced the cost of services provided in support of annual Lucy-Desi Festivals and events. This has included contributions and reductions, or both, from the Parks Department, Department of Public Works, Municipal Building maintenance staff, the police department, fire department, administrative staff and the BPU.
"The city has always been a partner with them, so, I guess from my perspective, we just want to continue our relationship. What more they want from us, I'm not quite sure. ... The discussion didn't get that specific. But, we are happy to have been a partner in the past, and we look forward to being a partner in the future," Rabb said.
Anthony Dolce, R-Ward 2, echoed Rabb's feelings on the work the Lucy-Desi Center has been doing, and said he was also glad to hear from Gunderson. He also said the city looks forward to working with the center in the future.
"They haven't really gotten into any specifics about what they want from us, whether it's fees waived or a budget line, I don't know. Money is tight, and we certainly will try to accommodate or do whatever we can to help them out, to support them," Dolce said.
Mayor Sam Teresi emphasized that for any city event - including Lucy Fest, the Downtown Cruisin' and the Holiday Parade - support is shown by city workers through the time and energy that is put in. Teresi said the city is happy to support these events, because they contribute significantly to the economic, recreational and social quality of life in the community.
Additionally, Teresi said if the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy is in fact seeking monetary support, it is not provided by local tax dollars.
"In accordance with state constitution, we cannot use local tax dollars to assist private projects and private organizations," Teresi said. "We, as a municipality - and that is for all municipalities in New York state - we are prohibited from using local tax dollars to assist private businesses or entities with their activities.
Legally, the municipality is able to procure state and federal money to assist with development projects and to support private groups and organizations. The city, in the past, has helped the Lucy-Desi Center to get funding.
Since 1991, the City of Jamestown and JURA have been providing assistance to the Lucy-Desi Museum. In 1991, the city, JURA, or both, commissioned Zalisk and Martin to perform an $80,000 Lucy-Desi Museum National Comedy Hall of Fame feasibility study and plan,
In 1995, the city packaged several buildings on East Third Street for redevelopment purposes. The site was sold to the developer by JURA with the stipulation that the 212 Pine St. location would be donated for use as the Lucy-Desi Museum. Enhancements included significant property cost write-downs, a $100,000 JLDC loan, Downtown Greenlining Facade Rebate of $10,000 per storefront and Downtown Rental Rehab grant funding.
In 2007, the city secured a New York Main Street grant of $100,000 to assist with the move of the Lucy-Desi Museum from 212 Pine St. into the former W.T. Grant Building on West Third Street.
Additionally, since 1992, the city has contributed and reduced the cost of services provided in support of annual Lucy-Desi Festivals and events. This has included contributions and reductions, or both, from the Parks Department, Department of Public Works, Municipal Building maintenance staff, the police department, fire department, administrative staff and the BPU.
Michael Taylor, D-Ward 3, agrees that the city has always been behind Lucy Fest and has backed the Lucy Committee over the years.
"Over time, the city has helped to promote and has done a lot of things as far as maintenance fees, removing red tape, to help out for Lucy Fest," Taylor said. "The city has always been a big supporter and I'm looking forward and interested to know the specifics of what they'll be asking for."
Gunderson told The Post-Journal she would rather not get into specifics of the type of support the Lucy-Desi Center will be seeking, but plans to discuss it further with City Council within the next month.
"We really think that this festival brings positive economic development to the community. We really need the city to be a partner with us on this event," Gunderson said.