“What did we get for $700,000?” That was the question Mayoral Marie Brown asked Saturday as she spoke to women who listened to her campaign pitch after the Black History Parade.
“We spent $700,000 for study to tell us whether or not it was a good idea to build an arena, that was two years ago, and nobody has seen the damn report,” said Brown.
She referred to a feasibility study the Mayo administration ordered from a Jackson, Mississippi firm. The firm, owned by M3A Architecture, was hired to assess whether or not it was feasible to build a new civic arena in downtown Monroe.
The cost of the study and preliminary plans was set at $800,000, which would be deducted from the architect’s fee if the city actually built the estimated $100 million complex.
M3A submitted its final invoice in 2017 and was paid $700,000. However, after two years, the city claims that it has not been given the final report anytime the media or members of the public ask to see the report.
“Either somebody in city hall doesn’t have good sense, or we are being lied to. Nobody pays $700,000 without receiving a single sheet of paper in return,” Brown said.
Brown told the small gathering that the city gives away large amounts of money for studies and even gifts to other cities, “and then turns around and raises our water bills and bus fares to pay for it.”
Brown said the city had another arena study a few years ago. That study showed that the cost of sustaining such a facility was out of range for Monroe.
“We have a civic center right now that seats 7,500 people, and we can’t fill it. The only time its been full was when Donald Trump came here. Now he wants to spend $100 million to build a new arena that will have just 1,500 more seats. How stupid can you get?” She asked.
Brown said the present complex should be repaired and modernized, and a manager or management company that knows how to book events should be hired.
“Right now we’ve got nothing but pictures Mayo is showing everybody, but nobody has seen the report or the plans to show how we will pay for this thing and keep it going after its built,” She said.
She said $100 million could be better used to fix our flooding, reduce crime, and make infrastructure improvements.
Brown is a community activist who has attended city council meetings for years raising questions about Mayo Administration actions that she claims hurt the citizens who are not aware of the impact of his actions.