JAMESTOWN – Scrutiny over the National Comedy Center’s decision to cease hosting a Board of Elections polling place continues to mount.
The Jamestown City Council furthered its discussion during a work session meeting on Monday evening.
Multiple councilmembers voiced their displeasure on the move, which calls for the Chautauqua County Board of Elections to look for a different location for the City’s Ward III voting site. City Councilman At-Large Jeff Russell was one of the outspoken members on the issue.
Russell says that the National Comedy Center is doing a disservice to the City of Jamestown and its taxpayers.
“I say this to the people that run the Comedy Center,” Russell said. “If you want to be successful, then you need to be good stewards to the City of Jamestown. And by kicking this pulling station out of there, for whatever reason you’re doing it, you’re not being good stewards of this City. There’s taxpayers of this City that have poured money into that building prior to taking it over, and now you’re telling those people that they are not good enough to come to that building and be able to utilize that rotunda, which legal language says they have the legal right to do so.”
Council President Tony Dolce says that there are other options that the Board of Elections can look into for the future polling site. Dolce says the Lucille Ball Little Theatre and James Prendergast Library are among the possible locations.
In a updated statement to WNY News Now overnight, National Comedy Center officials say the polling site’s requirements impact their retail operations and in turn potential revenue. They additionally say COVID-19 concerns led to the decision not to rent the space to the local Board of Elections.
“As we stated last week, we were open to readdressing the polling site issue if no suitable alternative sites could be found, despite the disruption to our retail operations and visitor experience,” the statement read. “We were, however, dismayed by the lengthy discussion during Monday’s City Council work session, because the State Board of Elections advised us last week that due to our liquor license, our entire facility including the train station concourse is prohibited from being a polling site under New York State law.”
The center says they welcome a new opportunity to work collaboratively to find the best solution, while adhering to all state, county and municipal laws.