Jamestown: A Tale of Two Cities

Thirty percent of the population of Jamestown lives in poverty. That is more than double the national average of about fourteen percent. That number swells in some large swaths of Jamestown. The poorest neighborhoods.

As the City prepares for the opening of the National Comedy Center, I sincerely wish everyone involved in the numerous intricate details of getting it open great luck. I applaud the years of hard work many people have put in to make this achievement possible. I sincerely hope the NCC will have the positive impact on Downtown Jamestown that has been predicted. I would love nothing more than to see a vibrant, active Downtown Jamestown. I would love to see the restaurants and stores downtown filled will people. I feel that is going to happen.

I am very optimistic the tourists will come to this wonderful Comedy Center. I think it’s an exciting time for Jamestown. I am all for the Comedy Center succeeding and the great work being done Downtown. I love the work done on the new Riverfront. It’s amazing. My question is this… How can we share Downtown Jamestown’s rebirth so it will benefit everyone in the city? How can this revitalization be shared with the thirty percent of people living in poverty and the many other residents who are living slightly over the poverty level? The people barely getting by month by month. What opportunities are going to trickle down to them?

Making tourists feel welcome is important. However, I wonder how many people who live in town view this project. Do they feel a part of what is going on in their own community? I wonder. I wonder if many of them will ever see the inside of the Comedy Center. I wonder if any of them will ever see the inside of the new Hilton Hotel or the inside of the new brewery. I am hopeful that most people would agree, every resident deserves to be included in this great restoration. The question then becomes, how do we include everyone?

I think a lesson can be learned from the resort hotel being built in Celoron. David Hart the owner of the new Chautauqua Harbor Hotel stated in The Post-Journal:

“We’re not a castle with a moat,” he said of the Celoron hotel. “We’re in the hospitality business. We’re in the entertainment business. We want people in the community to feel welcome, to feel as if this isn’t our hotel, but their hotel.” Also from the June 2, 2018, Post-Journal article… “And is if to drive that point home, Hart’s company is going to put in a new full-sized basketball court at the park in Celoron as a gift to the community, which will replace an older court and should be completed sometime in June. The new court will compliment other improvements being made to the park with the help of money from a state grant, which includes new bathrooms”

I think Mr. Hart is a very wise man and has the right idea. He understands he must include the town in his business plan. My question then becomes, what is the National Comedy Center giving back to the people of Jamestown, especially the poorest among us? How are they planning to include the town? It has recently been reported that the renovated Gateway Train Station (which was renovated for about 12 million dollars) was given to the Comedy Center for no cost. According to WRFA there was no public announcement of this transaction. Perhaps an oversite.

What I am now suggesting, in the spirit of including everyone in town, is the National Comedy Center extend a free one year membership to every citizen who can prove they live in Jamestown. This gesture will create a tremendous amount of good will between the Comedy Center and the Community. It will make everyone in town feel included in what is happening, rather than feeling like outsiders in their own town. It will make it possible for the poorest people to experience the Comedy Center. It will encourage residents to bring visitors to the museum. Since the National Comedy Center was given the Train Station perhaps they should offer a free look inside to the people of Jamestown. Thank you.

Tom Andalora owns a home in Jamestown.