MASON CITY – Citizens concerned about the viability of a $13 million plan to build an arena in Southbridge Mall and then spend millions to lease it back from the dubious owner successfully submitted a petition to city hall today that would force the mayor and council to bring the matter before the public in a referendum.
Phil Sanchez, Max Weaver and Larry Loeckle arrived at city hall at 12:30 PM Thursday armed with 267 signatures. In a symbolic gesture, they stood outside Mayor Eric Bookmeyer’s office and explained their motivations to oppose his plan to inject $18 million into Southbridge Mall and the pockets of the owner Michael Kohan of New York. See the video below for their entire presentation.
The trio then submitted the petition to City Administrator Brent Trout. Max Weaver asked Mr. Trout to “stamp” the petition for proof that it was submitted legally and on time.
“We just don’t trust Eric,” Mr. Weaver said of his meticulous attention to detail on securing verification. “He’ll try to cross people’s names off the list.”
If the city council and mayor decide to proceed with the project, the issue must go before the voters. A potential referendum could be held in March. Bookmeyer must garner 60% of voters to support his plan in order to succeed in the referendum.
The city council – which has so far supported the plan unanimously – will have to decide if that option is a route they wish to go.