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How Public Does Section Of Station Need To Be To Meet Federal Stipulations?

One of the great challenges of placing the National Comedy Center in the Gateway Train Station was how a national-level attraction would meet public use guarantees to keep the center of the building open for public use.

That issue is rearing its ugly head again now that the National Comedy Center has asked the county Board of Elections to move its Ward 3 polling site from the train station lobby to another site in the ward.

The comedy center’s request can likely be accommodated. There are other sites in the area that could work — though it’s a bit unfair for Ward 3 voters to have to move again after being shunted hither and yon over the past decade or so while other polling places remain the same decade after decade.

The real question that needs to be decided is how public does the center section of the renovated train station need to be to meet state and federal grant stipulations. Among the biggest funders were the federal Transit Administration and federal Highway Administration. The state Transportation Department also provided money. It’s hard to believe state and federal funders who approved transportation grants for the train station as a multi-modal transportation facility thought the public use of the building would be restricted this much.

Until there is a public answer to the question of how much public use meets the grant stipulations, these questions will continue to come up.

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