Jamestown City Council on Monday night voted down funding the National Comedy Center and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church with Non-Profit Assistance Grant funds
Council was presented with resolutions totaling $1.3 million for seven organizations requesting the American Rescue Plan funds that had been previously passed by the Jamestown Local Development Corporation. These resolutions came to Council due to the requests exceeding the $100,000 threshold.
Council member at large and JLDC board member Jeff Russell said he wished he could have approved more in funding to the Jamestown YMCA project, “You want to talk about return-on-investment, this is an organization that serves the entire population in the City of Jamestown from the very young to the very old; from babysitting services to feeding persons to education. So, I just wish that we were able or in a position to grant more money to this project.”
Council member Bill Reynolds stated he thought the Jamestown YMCA should come back to the city to request additional funding, including in-kind services from city departments.
The Jamestown YMCA had requested $1 million in funding through the Non-Profit Assistance Program but had that amount whittled down to the capped amount of $200,000 that was granted to any organization asking for over that amount in the funding scenario chosen by the JLDC. Previously, members of the organization had appeared before City Council to present on a request for $2 million in ARP funds to construct the new facility on Harrison Street.
Council member Marie Carrubba said she had reservations about the project, especially with the management of the facility being headquartered in Buffalo now, “Which doesn’t always bode well for the city when management is not local. The other concern I have I have brought up a number of times about collaboration. We have a community college with some facilities. This could be a win-win for both if there was collaboration.”
Carrubba added she also hasn’t seen concrete plans for reuse of the current facility on East Fourth Street.
Funding for the Jamestown YMCA passed 6-2 with Council members Reynolds and Randy Daversa voting no. Council President Tony Dolce recused himself from the vote due to being a member of the YMCA board.
Other funding approved included $181,393 to Chautauqua Opportunities Inc. for a women’s homeless shelter and $200,000 to Jamestown Center City Development Corporation for the construction of TheZone.
The resolution to fund the Robert H. Jackson Center with $200,000 for the renovation of their theatre as well as hiring two new positions passed by a vote of 6-3 with Council members Daversa, Andrew Faulkner, and Reynolds voting no. Faulkner also voted no on funding the YWCA Jamestown‘s youth leadership program with $145,714.
On the resolution to fund the National Comedy Center with $200,000 to replace lost revenue due to the pandemic, Council members Brent Sheldon, Regina Brackman, Marie Carrubba, Bill Reynolds, Andrew Faulkner, and Randy Daversa voted no.
The resolution to fund St. Luke’s Episcopal Church with $200,000 to restore its bell tower also failed 3 to 6 with Council members Brackman, Carrubba, Reynolds, Faulkner, Daversa, and Russell voting no.
Council President Dolce said the $400,000 in funding not approved by Council will go back to the drawing board to determine how it can be allocated, “Whether it would go back to another program and a non-for-profit or go back to the general ARPA fund to be used for other items that are necessary, possibly a bond that may be sitting in front of us. So again, a lot of difficult decisions and I want to applaud Council for working through those, asking a lot of questions.”
There are currently $1.2 million in undesignated American Rescue Plan funds remaining. The City had been allocated nearly $29 million through the American Rescue Plan Act.