Rain Forest Project's Figures Don't Add Up
Ted Kubicek

The Gazette
April 18, 2004, p. 8A

Concerning the pending indoor rain forest, a study "estimated" (a safe term) 1.3 million annual visitors and "expected" (another safe term) 290 full-time positions with an average salary of $31,000 annually. These figures should be dissected -- before, if not after the fact.

On the basis of a 365-day year, which is not likely, that means at least 3,561 visitors a day. Using a 10-hour-day for most visitors, that means 356 visitors an hours. Assuming four visitors per car, which is generous, that means at least 89 incoming cars per hour, obviously more than one a minute. Most of the 4.5 acres presumably would be -- in fact, should be -- vegetation. The balance of the space would be taken up with walks, office and class space, mechanical rooms, etc., perhaps one or two small grandstand-like structures. I can envision trying to enjoy nature's delights while being in an atmosphere similar to a Hawkeye football game.

Now, expenses. The projected figures contemplate a basic annual salary expense of almost $9 million. This alone would require an entrance fee of almost $7. But the operating expenses, plus employee benefits, and taxes, surely would at least double that. All of this is impossible to compute with any degree of final accuracy, although I suppose one could estimate and expect.

Is this rain forest really a matter of vision, or is it a matter of greed?

Ted Kubicek
Cedar Rapids