The Interstate-86 bridge over North Main Street in Ellicott has a new name: the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Memorial Bridge.
State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell were on hand to officially dedicate the bridge. The sign honors the first couple of TV comedy and Lucy's ties to Jamestown, her hometown.
The sign was unveiled Thursday at the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy. The sign dedicated the bridge over North Main Street in the Town of Ellicott as the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Memorial Bridge. A dedication ceremony was held at the Lucy-Desi center to celebrate.
According to State Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean, the idea to rename the bridge came from Lee Harkness, DJDC executive director. Three years ago, Harkness suggested to Young a way to promote the assets Jamestown has to offer.
"So, this is about celebrating one of our native people, who went on to do great things in the field of comedy and entertainment. But, also, it's a way to show the world that we have great attractions, right here in Jamestown, N.Y.," Sen. Young said.
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, took the reins in getting a bill passed to rename not only the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Memorial Bridge, but to rename other bridges as well.
"Our strategy is to have every bridge along I-86 named for one of the best attractions we have here in Jamestown. So, we have one for Lucille Ball, we have one for Roger Tory Peterson and we have one for the Jackson Center," Goodell said.
Goodell's bill passed the Senate in early May, and went on to pass the Assembly in June. On July 18, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.
"Jamestown is very fortunate to have all of the attractions that it has," Harkness said. "We have Roger Tory Peterson, the Jackson Center, Fenton, Audubon, the ice arena, and then if you put the Lucy-Desi Center on top of all that, we've got a real unbeatable package here."
Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy-Desi center, offered Sen. Young and Goodell copies of Lucille Ball's autobiography, which were signed by her entire staff. Additionally, she thanked the pair for all of their help in getting the bridge renamed.
"The renamed bridge gives apt distinction to the city that is not just the hometown to the legacy, but the perpetuator of the legacy in the form of this museum attraction and annual comedic programming," Gunderson said. "The Lucy-Desi Center and the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and the entire Arnaz family is forever grateful."
Renaming the bridge is a way to promote tourism in Jamestown, as well as a way to celebrate the legacy of Lucille Ball. Sen. Young and Goodell each emphasized the impact that the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Memorial Bridge will have in Jamestown.
Additionally, Harkness spoke about the impact tourism has on Jamestown, as well as the entirety of Chautauqua County.
"Tourism is becoming more and more important not only to Jamestown, but to Chautauqua County. An attraction like this in Jamestown is an extremely important economic factor to the people that live here, the people that work here and the people that want to be here," Harkness said.
The New York State Department of Transportation is working to put the finishing touches on the sign that will actually hang on the bridge. The new sign should be up within the next several weeks.