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Yet Another New Name?

Earth Park Floating Around

Brian Morelli

Iowa City Press-Citizen

May 9, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

Properly referred to as the Environmental Project, the name for the proposed indoor rain forest project will change yet again.

"We've always said the Environmental Project is a placeholder, pending decisions such as financing and selecting a site," project director David Oman said Monday. "It has always been our intention to brand the project with a permanent name."

Oman said a decision on a permanent name hasn't been made yet, but the name Earth Park has surfaced among officials whose communities are in the running for the project.

"There are several names that people have suggested, and they are being tested," Oman said. "There are scientific ways of testing and less formal ways."

Board member Richard Johnson of Sheldahl said the Earth Park name was "put forward" within the past six months.

"But the board hasn't gone forward with it yet," he said.

Tiffin, Riverside, Grinnell and Pella are competing to land the project on the basis of a four-part criterion, which includes the site's access, ambiance, acreage and a $25 million match. Dubuque's National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium remains a possibility for a scaled-down version.

The board of directors will select a final site in mid-May or June, depending on when a meeting can be arranged, Oman said.

"We are working on a (few) major fronts: a site front, financing front and name front. It would be helpful to pull these fronts together at some point," he said.

He did not say if a name would be announced when the site was selected.

The name has changed several times during the history of the project. Since 1999, it has been called Iowa Child, Iowa Environmental-/Education Project, Iowa Environmental Project and most recently, the Environ-mental Project. Many people just refer to it as the rain forest project.

"There are names rolling around. There are names floating through the air. There are some very interesting ones. We are looking how to best package this up," Oman said.

The project would include environmental and educational components, a 3.5-acre enclosed rain forest with multiple ecosystems, an aquarium, wetlands and prairie land. The project remains contingent on selecting a site and financing.