Fairgrounds: the $12 million dollar question - WSMV News 4

Fairgrounds: the $12 million dollar question

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

There is more fallout in response to a News 4 I-Team investigation into how money set aside for upgrading the Nashville Fairgrounds is being spent. 

Metro Council set aside 12 million dollars to fix up the place; some buildings have been freshly painted; others, torn down. Some buildings still have peeling paint and deteriorating roofs.

The News 4 I-Team discovered that some of the 12 million earmarked for fairgrounds upgrades instead paid architects for the proposed MLS stadium.

The soccer stadium hasn't been by metro council yet. 

"The people that have been pushing it, they've got money. They just don't want to spend their own," said Dick Dickerson, head of the Flea Market Vendors Association.

Flea market vendors have been waiting for upgrades to the buildings they use every month. 

At a meeting of the council committee that oversees the fairgrounds Wednesday night, some city council members were not happy..

"And why has that occurred?" asked Councilman Steve Glover. "When I look at these invoices, it doesn't make sense to me."

Glover asked Metro’s finance director Wednesday night who approved paying the architects’s fees.

“There's a lot of money," said Glover.

"I know there is. I will absolutely get you an answer," said Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax O’dNeal.

"Who is Larry Atema, please?" Glover asked.

News 4 obtained the invoices through an Open Records Request.  They indicate the payments were authorized by Larry Atema, a private contractor who is paid to manage large Metro projects such as the Music City Center.

Atema has a multi-year contract to serve as an “owner’s representative” for Metro. The value of the contract is $8 million.

The invoices were also signed by a Metro employee in the budget and finance department.

Why Atema approved the invoices, and how much Atema has been paid far for supervising the project, are questions the I-Team is continuing to ask.

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