Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site

Environmental Project Statement on Meeting

Iowa City Press-Citizen

December 8, 2005

[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.]

A statement issued by the rain forest backers from today's meeting with Coralville officials.

Leaders from both the City of Coralville and The Environmental Project met today to discuss the future of the proposed $180 million learning-centered destination attraction in Coralville.

Project officials heard responses from the Coralville representatives to the November 18 letter from Governor Robert Ray to Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett. The hour-long meeting was conducted via telephone due to Thursday’s inclement weather.

“Although today’s discussion produced no agreement,” says David Oman, executive director of the Environmental Project, “we again advised the city of the offers from numerous other communities in Iowa, as we did in September. Coralville was invited to remain in the mix of potential sites the board will study.”

The council members on the call advised project leaders that they will discuss the issue with their colleagues and decide whether or not Coralville will continue its interest in hosting the project.

Over the past few months, the Environmental Project has received overtures – including firm offers of sites – from many communities, institutions and developers in the state of Iowa.

“We’ve had good people reach out to us, people in communities who clearly understand the potential of the project with regard to both its environmental and educational missions,” said Oman. “They also readily understand the economic lift that would accrue from creating a large signature destination attraction in our state.

“As our board directed in November, we will proceed with examining the opportunities that have been presented to us,” he added.

Included in the discussion were: Tom Gill, Coralville city councilman; John Lundell, Coralville city councilman; Kelly Hayworth, Coralville city administrator; Gov. Robert Ray, chairman of the Environmental Project Board of Directors; Ted Townsend, project founder; David Oman, project executive director; Betsy Roe, Pella, project board member; Richard Myers, Iowa City, project board member; and Bob Downer, project legal counsel.

The mission of The Environmental Project is to inspire generations to learn from the natural world. The Environmental Project will provide visitors of all ages with an unparalleled opportunity to experience and learn about nature. The project’s unique array of natural environments, including an extensive indoor rainforest and aquarium, and exterior areas celebrating Iowa’s prairie and wetlands, will complement its interactive galleries and exhibits to encourage sustainable lifestyles in harmony with all of nature.