VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Nearly $1 million in contracts for an arena in Virginia Beach agreed upon in a closed-door session are being disputed by officials.
The economic development authority has already spent $670,000 out of an allotted $900,000 for research and planning of the arena, including a contract with a consultant. The city's economic development authority could be in violation of the Freedom of Information Act for not placing the spending to a public vote.
"I don't particularly approve the way they handled the contracts being approved in a closed session," Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said. "But I will sit back and say to you, an investment of $700,000, when you're looking at potentially a $350 million investment to the city, I would think that's a very wise investment to make to ensure we have the proper information to either say, 'Move forward,' or not to go forward."
Beach council members Bill DeSteph and John Moss say select members of city council knew about the contracts.
Former city councilman and current city council candidate Don Weeks told WAVY.com he has contacted the Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant and the FBI's Norfolk Division to make sure no laws were broken by the city's development authority in holding closed-door sessions.
Weeks' letter reads:
I am writing to request a formal investigation by your office to determine if any criminal acts have occurred in the secret expenditures of tax dollars by the Virginia Beach Development Authority on the proposed $350 million Sports Arena project. It is my understanding that this occurred without approval or oversight by the City Council of Virginia Beach and that the deliberations and actions were a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. As you know the FOIA is designed to protect the citizens of Virginia Beach and I trust you will give this matter the highest priority by your office. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
DeSteph and Moss will be holding a press conference starting 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Fresh Crust Restaurant, 1060 Lynnhaven Parkway.
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