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Council moves ahead on arena plan with mysterious New York mall owner; citizens vow petition to derail Bookmeyer (photos and video)



This news story was published on December 22, 2016.
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Southbridge Mall

MASON CITY – Southbridge Mall’s mysterious owner – who calls himself by at least three names – won’t have smooth sailing snagging $18 million in upgrades and rent to his $1.5 million mall for an arena, even though the city council approved a plan to go ahead with the deal Tuesday night.

The Mason City council Tuesday night unanimously approved a January 3, 2017 public hearing for the possible multi-use ice arena that would be built in Southbridge Mall’s former JC Penney anchor store footprint. Things got testy first, though, when former councilman Max Weaver took to the public podium and criticized the deal, saying he had a trademark “Weaver Plan B” idea that would work out better for the taxpayers. Councilman Travis Hickey hit back (figuratively – he didn’t physically attack Weaver as he has in the past), calling Mr. Weaver out by name during the meeting as his face glowed as red as Rudolph’s.  Weaver struck back later, telling Hickey to “grow some hair.”

JC Penney is closed now, but the empty shell could hold a multi-million dollar hockey arena

The public uproar to city hall’s gung-ho, all-out attempt to go deep into business, potentially for decades, with Tehran Kohansieh (or is it Mike Kohan or Mike Kohen?) of New York has many taxpaying citizens as peeved as Mr. Hickey, and they are doing something about it.  One man told NIT “Ole Bookee will be long gone in a few months, and we’ll be stuck with this hedge funder who owns decrepit malls all over the place.  We’ll be screwed!  Heck, half this council is about to get their walking papers, and look at them dig our grave.  I won’t stand for it.”

This tough talk and Mr. Hickey’s challenge of Mr. Weaver has led to an overwhelming push to produce a signed petition that would put the brakes on Bookmeyer’s and the council’s freight train and send them back to the drawing board for a deal less-risky to the taxpayers.  City hall claims millions could be on the way from the state, but so far, this is all conjecture, as is a claimed $2 million contribution from hockey supporters.  These dollars are not in the bank here, yet.

Auditor Ken Kline

Citizens of Mason City have contacted auditor Ken Kline at the courthouse, even as Mr. Weaver entered city hall Wednesday night along with longtime-activist Phil Sanchez and demanded numbers and answers on the legalities of the petition against Bookmeyer’s arena plan.  Mr. Kline (and city hall) delivered.  He says “the (number of needed valid signatures on the petition) are based on the number of voters from the 2015 Regular City Election at which 1,397 voters participated.  The minimum number of signatures is 140; which is ten percent of 1,397, rounded up.  The petition must be filed with the city clerk “before the date fixed for taking action”. If that date is January 3rd, then I would think the petition must be filed before that date. People filing a petition must be aware of days and times the city clerk’s office is open.”

The petition is being drawn up Thursday morning, and sources tell NIT that the many more than 140 people will sign.

“We’ll need ’em, since we know Eric will try to get names crossed off the petition,” one petition-backer claimed.  “He’s sneaky, and we have to be on our toes.”

Once Bookmeyer’s plan stalls or fails – as so many others have in the past – this is potentially the moment when Mr. Weaver will introduce a detailed “Weaver Plan B” idea for a stand-alone arena, more focused on ice activities, not located in the downtown.  “I don’t want to be in the entertainment business,” Mr. Weaver told NIT Wednesday night in an interview.  “Brett Schoneman’s idea to bring in ‘5-year-old bands’ to ‘play on Thursdays’ and sell beer … he just wants gigs for his pals who play in bands.  Actually I think HE is in a band.  We can build an arena for for less than $13 million and it can be owned by a local non-profit.”

More details to come in this rapidly-evolving drama.

Surf Ballroom Event Producer Shane Cooney was 100% in-favor of the new arena and claims his youth hockey organization will raise $2 million towards the project

Max Weaver at the public podium. He’s not in favor of city’s hall’s version of the arena.

Bennett Smith asked the council to include citizen input in their decision-making

City administrator Brent Trout gave the plan for the arena that the council wanted to hear.

Eric Bookmeyer, recruiter extraordinaire. Some citizens wonder, “where does he get these guys” in reference to some of the characters he has brought to Mason City to get into business with. The likes of Ron Prestage (gun arrest in DC) and Jere Null (union-buster), Joe Yavorski and Rod Flores (carpet-bagging trash burners with CIA ties) and now Tehran Kohansieh of New York with other name aliases and troubling record as property owner.

FURTHER READING:

2012 staff report on downtown arena for Mason City

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15 Responses to Council moves ahead on arena plan with mysterious New York mall owner; citizens vow petition to derail Bookmeyer (photos and video)

  1. rukidding Reply Report comment

    January 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    A question I would like answered is has this type of project been done at any other malls in Iowa and if so where and how are they doing financially? I can see this as a benefit to the youth hockey association and a financial benefit to the downtown business’s but I don’t think the rest of us should have to subsidize it for their benefit or profit.

  2. whatever Reply Report comment

    January 5, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Let the voters decide this issue. This is a special interest project that benefits just a few. Private investors have not come forward to build an arena downtown because they are smart enough to know that it will not make money.

  3. mint Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2016 at 2:08 am

    The mall their idea has already financially failed now they want to soak the taxpayer with 18 million, that 18 million needs to go back to the taxpayers it;s their $, apparently these people have no qualms with stealing from the citizens and using their tax $ for their fantasy businesses that have a blank check, just say no to “Rome/the 2nd Beast” their revived Roman Empire.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Perhaps a petition needs to be looked into, requesting a special election on this “arena” and maybe even on replacing “the mayor and council members “. Just putting it out there for thought.

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    There are lots of big commercial property owners around here. Why can’t one, or several, of them buy the mall? These out-of-town shysters aren’t the only ones who can own this thing. Why don’t a couple of them get together, offer the new crooked owner 1.6 million, and buy it? He’d probably take it, since he just paid 1.5 mil for it. He’d make some money right away, get out of it, and somebody local could get all the money the city and the state want to throw at it. Stop leaving our future to crooks from far away!

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 22, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      1.6 is not realistic. The free money given to the mall development in desperation makes the Mall worth MUCH more. Sign the Petition for a citizen vote. The first available date is March 7th, 2017. Vote NO. Then offer 1.4.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        December 23, 2016 at 12:19 pm

        That sounds like a really good idea.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 23, 2016 at 10:32 am

      The all was for sale, nobody bought it.

  6. Bayside01 Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t play hockey what good is this to me

  7. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Drain the swamp — errrrrr I mean rink.

  8. ************************************** Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Why blame NIT? He’s only trying to information out so those bafoons quit taking us for a killing. You must be a drinking buddy of ole boozehound? Get real Boozehound and his puppets are at it again. Remember precious prestige?

  9. anonymight Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Good grief NIT, you are the most anti Mason City growth voice I have ever heard. Even more so than Weaver.
    Of course Weaver is coming up with a half-baked plan B, that is what he does, and his ideas never amount to squat.
    I will say again, how about some honest reporting NIT?

  10. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    “Eric Bookmeyer, recruiter extraordinaire. Some citizens wonder, “where does he get these guys” in reference to some of the characters he has brought to Mason City to get into business with. The likes of Ron Prestage (gun arrest in DC) and Jere Null (union-buster), Joe Yavorski and Rod Flores (carpet-bagging trash burners with CIA ties) and now Tehran Kohansieh of New York with other name aliases and troubling record as property owner.”

    You forgot to mention Chodur boy!!