Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site

Indoor Entertainment Complex May be Solution

Egils Lapainis

The Gazette

February 22, 2006

Becky Athy, Vision Iowa Board's Decisions Are Flawed

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, 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 Gazette.]

I have followed with interest the articles concerning the Cedar Bend project. It has positive features but fails to address a major drawback: Midwestern weather. There are advantages to life in Cedar Rapids — family friendly, low crime, clean air, wonderful people, etc. However, in addition to the weather, yet another shortcoming exists: the paucity of entertainment (other than cultural offerings) and recreational opportunities. We are not blessed with mountains, deserts, beaches or oceans — venues that provide pleasure and relaxation for inhabitants in other parts of the country. Fortunately, there is a solution.

I propose we construct an INDOOR attraction, large enough to become a regional and tourist draw, somewhere in the Corridor. Mountains or deserts are too massive to replicate, but a beach and beach town are eminently feasible. One need only look at the Mall of America and water parks for proof.

There would of course be a beach and other water rides and amusements, but that would be just the beginning. Also included would be restaurants, sports bars, pizza parlors, ice cream stores, fast food outlets, shops, jogging trails and other athletic facilities, an amphitheater, farmers market, rain forest, winetasting cellars, a casino (it’s outrageous that Cedar Rapids is losing all the revenues that gaming provides) and more. Nearby, probably outside, condos and lofts would be viable. The possibilities are boundless.

To appeal to all ages, it could be ‘‘zoned’’ between family and adult-oriented attractions. Casino, sports bar, fine dining restaurants, etc., in one area; pizza parlors, ice cream stands, ‘‘beach gear’’ shops in another. Transitioning between the two might be the farmers market, tourist shops and the rain forest.

The quality of life (and the tax base) in the Corridor would be vastly improved by such a project.

Egils Lapainis
Cedar Rapids

Vision Iowa Board's Decisions Are Flawed

Becky Athy

The Feb. 12 article, ‘‘C.R. among thirsty Vision cities,’’ stated that several communities asking for extensions were mostly well along, if not nearing completion — Cedar Rapids’ Cedar Bend was the exception.

I was at the meeting when Cedar Rapids first was granted Vision Iowa monies. The projects granted monies that day are most decidedly not nearing completion. Waterloo and the West Tarkio’s projects are not any further along than Cedar Bend. These are now all 4-plus-year-old projects. Any person who would believe the project cost would not increase in four years should not be in charge of handling millions of dollars for projects fraught with controversy.

West Tarkio hasn’t purchased land for its project nor has it accurately projected the cost of the land. This is a huge question when West Tarkio is purchasing thousands of acres of farmable bottom ground. To extend a project that is underfunded and to be surprised that the cost of the project has increased over the last four years is not how Vision Iowa should work.

When Cedar Rapids was granted money, every group given money that day had a sitting member from each of those communities on the Vision Iowa board. I had serious questions at the time about the coincidence of each city having that ace in the hole — good old boy system, (even though two were women), backroom politics, government and ‘‘free money’’ at its best. Millions of taxpayers are left in the dark about how the ‘‘Vision’’ works.

Michael Gartner, the chairman of Vision Iowa when Cedar Rapids was given money, is no longer on the Vision Iowa Board. He is now the chairman of the Iowa Board of Regents. We are seeing the ‘‘vision’’ he is bringing to that entity. What’s next?

Becky Athy
Cedar Rapids