Lucie Arnaz may have been premature in announcing plans for a comedy hall of fame and museum during a Friday night Lucy Fest show.
Arnaz, daughter of comedian Lucille Ball, announced plans to bring the attraction to the area during Friday's Stand-Up Showcase. Arnaz said she would like to see the hall of fame and museum in the renovated Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Station.
"(Arnaz) loves the idea of that space being used to carry this through," said Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.
The renovated Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Station in Jamestown was named as a possible location for a Comedy Hall of Fame.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
According to Gunderson, bringing the attraction to the area would be the fourth pillar in the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy's four-pillar vision.
"That includes the establishment of the first national attraction comedy museum and hall of fame in Jamestown. We intend to submit a proposal to explore using the renovated train station as a potential location for that," Gunderson said.
Friday's announcement came as a surprise to Lee Harkness, executive director of the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation, which is spearheading the train station project. No formal plans have been presented yet.
"We all think that the comedy hall of fame in the train station would be a good, viable use for it. However, we right now have no formal agreements in place," Harkness said. "To make this all happen, there will be a lot of arrangements that we will have to make. We have to clear it with the state and the federal people because of the historic preservation part of it."
Calling the railroad station home to the comedy hall of fame and museum may be premature, but it is an issue that has been discussed since the early 1990s. A study was performed in 1994 by Thomas J. Martin, an economic research consultant, which showed a comedy center in the area could support up to 90 percent of its operating costs from donations, admission sales and other sources. At the time of the study, the intent was for the Lucy Desi Center to also be located inside the railroad station.
The 1994 study suggested the comedy center in the railroad station could attract 300 people a day, mainly from tourists, school children, area residents and others. However, it is unclear as to whether additional studies have been done over the past 18 years.
"Since I have been involved, I don't think there have been any studies," Harkness said.
Now, the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation will be working with the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy, and any other interested groups, once a proposal is submitted.
"We will have to work through an agreement that satisfies all the different entities involved in a project such as this. The bottom line will be proper financing for all that are involved," Harkness said.