News4 I-Team has followed up with its stunning report that it says shows former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean used relief funds from the 2010 flood to build Ascend Ampitheater.
Dean denied the accusation during a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night after opponent Craig Fitzhugh brought it up, WSMV said.
Last week News4 I-Team reported that $7.4 million in HUD disaster relief money didn’t go to flood victims; it went to design and engineering work for riverfront development, including Ascend Amphitheater.
Dean’s former communications director Janel Lacy tweeted, “strong rebuttal by Karl Dean in response to a false statement about the use of flood recovery funds.”
Paige Hill, communications director for the Karl Dean for Governor campaign, gave a statement saying Dean went through a three-year period of working with Metro Council and other stakeholders to “repurpose” $7 million of Community Development Block Grant funds to build a seepage cut-off wall along the Riverfront Park where the ampitheater is located.
“This infrastructure fix slows down the movement of underground water and helps decrease the impact of future floods. The city’s actual investment in flood mitigation totaled well over the $7 million that was repurposed.”
The I-Team report cited invoices and other paperwork it says proves its accusations, including those from a company whose CEO allegedly had ties to Dean. One such document was a Feb. 18, 2014, invoice listing meetings with people from offices including the mayor’s office, Metro Parks and the Symphony. The task list includes “continued development of Site Plan and Amphitheater Design.” The bill was for $90,471.00.
WSMV has also reported that HUD, which provided the flood relief funds, did not know the city spent $7 million on an ampitheater but only that funds were for “riverfront development.” The station said the city told HUD in 2013 they could not find anyone who still needed help.