ATLANTA — A tribute to an Atlanta boxing legend is sitting in storage collecting dust more than a year after taxpayers paid nearly $100,000 for it.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant found the delay is leaving a lot of Evander Holyfield fans scratching their heads.
“This is our effort to make sure that we tell a full story of the city of Atlanta and its citizens,” then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in November 2017.
About a month before Reed left office, he announced his plans to honor Holyfield, a former heavyweight champion and Atlanta native, with a 9-foot bronze statue in front of downtown Atlanta's iconic Flatiron Building.
“Holyfield embodies what it means to chase your dreams,” Reed said.
But nearly 18 months later, there is still no statue of the Champ in sight.
“They need to put it up here,” said Lois Shelton, a Holyfield fan and Atlanta taxpayer.
Diamant searched the city's new online "open checkbook" and confirmed taxpayers have already shelled out $90,000 to New Jersey artist Brian Hanlon, who told Diamant by phone he completed and delivered the statue.
“Especially if it was taxpayer-funded, I think it’s a waste of money if it’s sitting somewhere collecting dust,” said Atlanta taxpayer Derrick Brown.
A City Hall source told Diamant the Holyfield statue is still sitting in a crate in storage under Atlanta Watershed Management’s downtown Atlanta headquarters on Marietta Street.
“Here again, there’s something this administration inherited from the other administration that just was not done well,” said William Perry, founder of Georgia Ethics Watchdog.
Perry’s main frustration is over more than just the money.
“It’s an embarrassment for Atlanta,” said Perry. “It’s an embarrassment for Evander Holyfield, and they really need to fix it, because clearly this was not well thought out.”
None of the city leaders Diamant contacted Thursday could explain exactly how the statue ended up in storage rather than outside the Flatiron Building.
Michael Smith, a spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, sent Diamant a statement saying:
“The city is in the process of identifying a suitable location for the sculpture. Specific installation information will be finalized soon.”
Hanlon said he just hopes his work has a home soon.
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