Return to Nicholas Johnson's "Iowa Child" main Web page -- or to his main site at

The Iowa City Press-Citizen's "Iowa Child" Three-Part Series . . .

Note: On Saturday, March 20, 2004, the Iowa City Press-Citizen announced that it was launching a three-part series about the "Iowa Child/Environmental-Education Project." It is, of course, copyright  by the Press-Citizen, and is posted here as a fair use display, for educational purposes only, of material already made freely available to the public on the newspaper's Web site. For subscription information go to

At the Web site you're looking at now the relevant material from each day's paper is presented on a separate page. This page contains the material from March 20. For each, click on March 20, March 21 and March 22.

Sidebar material is blocked and indented on this Web page to set it apart.

A summary "table of contents" set of links is provided here to ease searching the many separate pieces and sidebars presented by the paper in this issue.

Contents of Series in March 20th Paper

Editor Jim Lewers, "P-C Finds Rain Forest Answers"

Creating Power, Building Dreams (the main story)

The Series (a promo/summary of the three-part series)

Town Meeting (summary of details of Press-Citizen-sponsored meeting, Monday, March 22)

How Interested Are You (quotes from three local residents)

The Players (brief descriptions of some of the Iowa Child principals)

Similar Environmental Projects

The Iowa Environmental/Education Project: Then and Now (changes in the plans over time)

Questions, Answers With Project's City [sic] Administrator (Chief Administrator David Oman)

Project Timeline

Saturday, March 20, 2004

P-C finds rain forest answers

What should a newspaper do when a $180 million project that includes $50 million in virtually no-strings-attached federal money comes to its area?

Jim Lewers
Editor's Notes

Ask questions.

The Press-Citizen has covered the project formerly known as Iowa Child and now called the Iowa Environmental/Education Project through several years, twists and turns. I've only been managing editor here for a year, but my sense is that the newspaper always has had a healthy amount of skepticism about the project.

It should.

Not because the project is necessarily a bad idea. It might not be. But our role is to ask questions.

We are supposed to provide our community with as much information as possible, especially on something as massive and revolutionary as this. This project has the potential to drive more change in our area than anything since the Coral Ridge Mall.

We need to ask questions because many others in our community have questions, too. Perhaps Johnson County residents as a whole are less critical than most Iowans, who believe the project is a waste of money, according to a recent Des Moines Register poll. That would make sense because the poll found most people in the 18-34 age group believe the project is good for Iowa, and our area has far younger demographics than the rest of the state. It also would make sense because our area stands to gain in economic development.

But we need to ask questions with the long-term good of our community in mind. This project is huge, even now that the people running it have scaled it back from $300 million to $180 million. Where's it going to take us or leave us in the next decade?

Answering key questions is what the three-part series that starts in today's paper is all about. Each day, you'll find that we've asked key questions. You can look at the answers and judge them for yourselves.

We also need to give project organizers a chance to answer questions and to give community members a chance to ask their own questions - face-to-face. That's why we're inviting the public to a forum Mon-day night to discuss the rain forest. Project leaders will give presentations and take questions beginning at 7 p.m. at Northwest Junior High in Coralville.

Our news and editorial coverage up to this point, the series that begins today and the forum are a team effort.

Assistant Assignment Editor Brian Sharp has covered the rain forest project since it shifted focus to Coralville three years ago. In fact, he's been writing about the project longer than David Oman has been leading it.

Coralville reporter Rebecca Shultze, who has a biology degree in addition to one in journalism, has been writing about it only a short time, since joining our staff in the fall. But she is becoming an expert on the project, too.

We've also relied on our correspondents in Gannett's Washington bureau to help us cover the federal funding part of the story, including an article about how little oversight Congress mandated for the $50 million it approved for the project.

Editorial Page Editor Rob Bignell and I have written about the rain forest project for the editorial page, and Rob has organized Monday's forum.

We hope you take the time to read our series and come to the forum, and react to what you learn. We've published many letters to the editor and commentaries about the project and will publish many more.

Tell us what you think.

Reach Press-Citizen managing editor Jim Lewers at 319-887-5428 or

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Creating power, building dreams

On the brink: The Iowa Environmental/Education Project

From his living room window, Al Roe watches the Iowa River roll by the woods that rise just beyond the water to the east.

An exterior view of the rain forest in the Iowa Environmental/Education Project that will be at Interstate 80 and First Avenue in Coralville.

Special to the Press-Citizen

Looking west from his Edgewater Drive home, he sees mounds of dirt where a park used to be, soon to give way to a nine-story hotel and conference center.

Farther north is the great unknown: The site of a proposed $180 million enclosed rain forest called the Iowa Environmental/Education Project that would stretch three football fields in length and block the view of Interstate 80 with a towering yet translucent forest-filled dome.

David Oman, the project's chief administrator, wants to "draw things to a close this spring," and break ground this fall. January brought $50 million in federal money; state funds hinge on talk of expanding gambling in Iowa. After three years of planning, the time is now. Yet design, content and financing remain fluid - outside of founder Ted Townsend, the private sector has yet to step forward.

"I'm just not seeing the progress I would like to have seen right now," said Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, a former City Council member. But from City Administrator Kelly Hayworth: "You have a concept stage, and I think that's where we're at ... by the end of the summer, there's going to be a lot more detailed plans fleshed out."

  • The key players in the project.
  • Similar projects in the United States and Europe.
  • Details of the project then in 2000 and now in 2004.
  • Question-and-answer session with David Oman.
  • The project timeline.

So the planning continues. Project officials are formalizing designs and educational components, updating visitor projections and financials. They talk about fuel cells and heat transfer coefficients of a high performance "skin" - knowing the 4.5-acre rain forest will rise or fall in the life support system they create. And still there are endless questions, and few sure answers.

"We've made good progress, and there's certainly much additional work to do," Oman said. "At some point, all these issues converge - the question of dollars, of timing ... the availability of the land and of people experienced to do this work." He adds one definite, however: "We will build."

Whatever comes to the hill southeast of Interstate 80 and First Avenue, Roe and his dozen or so neighbors know that their world, at least their view of it, is about to change.

"You've got a freedom down here, and yet you're in town," said Roe, 45, who grew up in Coralville and had the mayor as his baseball coach. "Why did we love living in this town? It's because it was a town, it wasn't a city. This isn't what Coralville was about, it wasn't a tourist trap."

Conceptual design

The rain forest proposal officially is called the Iowa Environmental/Education Project. With its educational galleries and learning academies, 1 million-gallon aquarium, mixed-media theater and 10-acre recreated Iowa prairie and wetland, the focus is on learning and ecology.

The series
  • Today: Three years after a proposed rain forest and education project was pitched to Coralville, groundbreaking could be months away. But details remain fluid, including the energy and water systems that will fuel it.
  • Sunday: Financial questions have plagued the Iowa Environmental/Education Project. “We will build,” says David Oman, the project’s chief administrator. But how will they pay the bills?
  • Monday: Critics scoff at the idea of re-creating a rain forest in Iowa. From the plants and the trees, birds, fish and animals, decisions about what lives inside will determine everything from layout to life support systems needed.

And yes, tourism. The project needs about one million visitors a year to pay the bills.Initially named the Iowa Child Project, the idea has transformed dramatically in makeup and cost since its December 2000 arrival in Coralville. But it had long disappeared from the headlines and water-cooler discussions. That is, until a federal pledge of $50 million jumpstarted the project in January.

"We are early in this process," said Sergio Modigliani, of Boston, one of the project architects. "What's been completed is really a conceptual design. As we stand today, exactly the size and scope of this project has yet to be done."

His job, once given the go-ahead, will be to work with a team of architects and engineers to refine the heating, cooling and water systems. He said he cannot yet quantify the project's utility demands, explaining that cost cutting and revisions rendered initial estimates obsolete. Project leaders are working on fund-raising and content that will define the scope of the team's work.

"Right now, everyone is in a moment of limbo," Modigliani said. "It is truly a multi-dimensional undertaking."

Many challenges

Lee Simmons is director for the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., home to the Lied Jungle. The 1.5-acre project opened in 1992 and, at the time, was the most cutting-edge and largest total immersion rain forest exhibit in the world.

Overshadowed by the newer and grander Eden Project in Cornwall, England, Simmons cautioned against comparisons to that rain forest across the pond.

An overhead view of the rain forest in the Iowa Environmental/Education Project alongside Coralville’s Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
Special to the Press-Citizen
 "The Eden Project, that's a very benign climate there," he said. Located in southern England, the ocean and influences of the Gulf Stream "makes what they are doing a lot easier than doing the same thing in Nebraska or Iowa.

"The biggest challenge in a facility like this is not just heating it in the winter - because that's simply a matter of how many cubic feet of natural gas you can afford - but cooling it in the summer, so plants don't burn up and people can stand to be in it," he said.

Modigliani agreed.

"Fundamentally, I think we can use the analogy that the building is really a large greenhouse," he said, meaning it can effectively fend off the winter chill but faces real challenges in the summer heat.

Some of the heating and cooling questions are answered in the Coralville project's "skin" - a three-layer, durable plastic-like sheeting that will act as walls and roof, supported by massive steel arches. The material has about twice the insulating value as glass. And by adjusting the air pressure on either side of a patterned inner layer, the skin can be made more or less transparent, blocking out more or less sun and therefore, heat.

"The wonderful aspect, then about this is that it can be connected to a control system that monitors outside temperatures and which monitors the position of the sun and time of day," Modigliani said. "The building can respond to what's going on outside and, in some cases, we're told it can anticipate (temperature changes)."

Town meeting
  The Press-Citizen is hosting a public forum about the Iowa Environmental/Education Project.
  • When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.
  • Where: Northwest Junior High School auditorium, Coralville.
  • Panelists: David Oman, IEEP chief administrator; former Gov. Robert D. Ray, IEEP chairman; Peter Sollogub, Sergio Modigliani, IEEP design team; Chris Rohret, Iowa City School District; Robert Yager, University of Iowa; and Kelly Hayworth, Coralville city administrator.
  • Format: First half features presentations from panelists; during second half, audience may ask the panelists questions.
Establishing an energy source

At the Lied Jungle in Omaha, officials rely on an $800,000 fuel cell for 50 to 60 percent of their power need. The reliable energy source uses a chemical process that generates electricity, heat and water.

In Coralville, officials are talking about a bank of six fuel cells to match the project's base energy demand. Excess heat could warm the aquarium. It also could be diffused into captured rainwater, ground water or river water, which then could be discharged.

"It is a loop," Modigliani said. "It needs to be understood that you have a well that takes water out and you have another well that returns it. It's not like you're consuming water. You're taking advantage of the earth as a heat sink ... meaning it acts as a natural place for us to reject the heat."

One unresolved question is how to store some of that excess heat for rainy days.

Elsewhere, rain water and cooling system condensation could be recycled to water plants, increase humidity or flush toilets. At a one-acre enclosed rain forest in Zurich, Switzerland, the low-tech measures provide two of every three gallons needed for irrigation.

The Coralville project still would require a cooling system, Modigliani said. The fuel cell-powered plant, part of a $10 million to $15 million deal with a yet-unnamed utility, would offset energy costs. It is unlikely the project would be independent of the power grid.

How interested are you in seeing the Iowa Environmental/Education Project built? Why?

  “We are very excited so we can take the kids there for field trips. It will be another place for us to explore.”
  Tammy Vandersee, 29,
  childcare provider from Coralville

  “I’m very interested. I have five small children and I think the educational benefits to the area will be tremendous, and I think it will bring a lot of money into the community.”
  Kodie Holbert, 30,
  homemaker from Iowa City

  “With things the way they are right now, I’m not sure they should be putting all that money into just one thing. I think they should spread it out (to be more effective with education).”
  Janis Dietrich, 53,
  homemaker from Riverside

The consequences

Back on Edgewater Drive, Roe spends a quiet weekend afternoon cutting firewood. The buzz of his chainsaw cuts through the silence of the neighborhood he has called home the past 17 years.

The area is in the floodplain, another unresolved factor for the forest.

A few doors down, 19-year-old Nick Knudsen has just awakened from a nap. He counts himself among those interested in what is proposed up on the hill. He likes the design team's ecological mindset but worries their water use and recycling may cause Iowa River temperatures to rise or levels to fall.

"People do a lot of fishing around here," Knudsen said. "I hope they think about the environment around here, too."

Modigliani said the design team shares that concern."The river would be unlikely to be the primary source for the heat sink," he said, "while the earth, because of its huge mass and size, makes for a very good opportunity. Let me just assure you that the temperature change that is permitted in a river is very, very small. We're talking fractions, to a degree of a degree at most, no more than would be experienced by the river on a natural basis."

Knudsen moved into his rented Edgewater Drive home Dec. 30. He expects the project will be impressive, and he looks forward to visiting. But the more he gets to know his neighborhood, the more he realizes the consequence of its construction.

"It's so quiet around here now. Cars don't even drive by," he said. "It's going to be a drastic change."

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Players

 • Creating power, building dreams
 • Similar projects in the United States and Europe.
 • Details of the project then in 2000 and now in 2004.
 • Question-and-answer session with David Oman.
 • The project timeline.
David Oman is the chief administrator for the Iowa Environmental/ Education Project. The former telecommunications executive joined the project in April 2001. He was the chief of staff to former Govs. Robert Ray and Terry Branstad and a Republican gubernatorial candidate in 1998. He also chaired the Iowa 2010 governor's strategic planning council.

Peter Sollogub is the principal architect for the Iowa Environmental/Education Project. He lectures at a number of East Coast universities, including the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His firm, Chermayeff, Sollogub and Poole Inc., has contributed to numerous museums and aquariums, including the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn.

John Picard is an adviser in technology, energy and telecommunications for the Iowa Environmental/ Education Project. He founded the California-based e2 - Environ-mental Enterprises - and has worked with such companies as Sony Pictures, GTE, the Gap and Compaq Computers.

Ted Townsend is the second-generation owner of Townsend Engineering Co. in Des Moines and the founder of the Iowa Environmental/ Education Project, formerly Iowa Child. Townsend, who also founded the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary being built in Des Moines, is contributing at least $10 million to the indoor rain forest and education complex.

Robert D. Ray is chairman of the Iowa Child Institute, which oversees the Environmen-tal/Education Project. The five-term Iowa Republican governor served from 1969 to 1983, and is the former president of his alma mater, Drake University. Ray founded the Iowa Peace Institute, Sister States and the Iowa National Heritage Foundation.

Robert Yager is a professor of science education at the University of Iowa. He is serving on the Iowa Environmental/Education Project board of directors and educational design team. Yager developed the Iowa Chautauqua Program to improve K-12 science education and has led seven national organizations, including the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and the National Science Teacher Association. 

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Similar environmental/education projects

  • Creating power, building dreams
  • The key players in the project.
  • Details of the project then in 2000 and now in 2004.
  • Question-and-answer session with David Oman.
  • The project timeline.

Eden Project, Cornwall, England

• Population: 500,000.

• Details: The two largest bidomesin the world, the largest of which re-creates a tropical rain forest in an enclosure rising 11 stories and stretching more than two football fields in length. Includes educational and research components. More than 100,000 plants; no animals; employs 600 people.

• Opened: March 2001.

• Project cost: $159 million.

• Annual visitors: Averaging 1.8 million.

• Ticket price: $18 for adults - rising to $22 effective April 1.

• Financial and economic impact: Mix of public and private sector money. Half the money came from lottery dollars. Economic impact to Cornwall equaled $299.5 million in 2002-03.

• Did you know? Cornwall is described as "a major tourist destination in the U.K., famous for its beautiful countryside and beaches."

• Web site:

Lied Jungle at Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Neb.

• Population: 390,000.

• Details: Covers 1.5 acres and rises eight stories under a skylight roof of fiberglass reinforced plastic; features rain forest habitats, with more than 100 plants and 90 animal species from Asia, Africa and South America; visitors walk along upper canopy walkways before descending to lower jungle trail. Employs 14 operational staff. Other marketing, educational and research staff combined with entire zoo.

• Opened: 1992.

• Project cost: $15 million.

• Annual visitors: 1.35 million zoo visitors; figures for the Lied Jungle are not kept.

• Ticket price: $9.75 for adults.

• Financials: Financed with a donation from the Lied Foundation Trust; basic operating expenses for 2003 were about $1 million. Since August 2001, a 200-kilowatt fuel cell has provided heat and power covering 50 to 60 percent of the jungle's electric power needs. As a gauge of economic impact, the zoo receives almost $1 of every $5 returned to the community in hotel/motel tax revenue.

• Did you know? The Lied Jungle is consistently one of the top four attractions at the zoo and is considered the pioneering project when it comes to creating an enclosed rain forest exhibit.

• Web site:

Masoala Hall at Zurich Zoo, Zurich, Switzerland

• Population: 1.28 million.

• Details: According to Swiss Info, the nearly one-acre enclosure, built on a former shooting range, rises 61/2 stories and houses about 17,000 plants and trees (more than 100 varieties) and 430 animals of 60 different species. A transparent three-level foil roof encloses the structure; Madagascan restaurant.

• Opened: May 2003.

• Project cost: $40.7 million.

• Annual visitors: Not available.

• Ticket price: $17.50 for adults.

• Financial and economic impact: Construction paid for with private donations and legacies. Exact energy figures and economic impact not available. The exhibit's spray irrigation system uses 20,800 gallons of water daily. Two-thirds of that is offset by rainwater captured off the structure.

• Did you know? The project operates in close partnership with a national park in the Mosoala peninsula of Madagascar. The Zurich zoo contributes a reported $10,000 annually to the park.

• Web site: (translate site by first searching "Zurich zoo" on

Congo Gorilla Forest at Bronx Zoo, Bronx, New York

• Population: 1.3 million.

• Details: A 6.5-acre re-created African rain forest covering both indoor and outdoor exhibit space. Indoor space encloses nearly one acre. The project is the world's largest African forest exhibit, home to more than 1,500 plants of 400 species; the largest breading groups of gorillas in North America; and nearly 300 animals of 75 species from primates and birds to fish and reptiles. Facility also includes a teacher training center and classroom space.

• Opened: June 1999.

• Project cost: $43 million.

• Annual visitors: 576,444 (total zoo draws 1.7 million annually).

• Ticket price: $11 for adults. (Includes $3 donation to support conservation programs.)

• Financials: A public-private partnership, involving $14.45 million from the city of New York; $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation; more than $30 million from the private sector to support construction and build endowments.

• Did you know? The project has raised nearly $5 million for African rain forest conservation programs managed by the the Wildlife Conservation Society. The project also helped establish the world's first education program associated with a zoo.

• Web site: 

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Iowa Environmental/Education Project:
Then and Now

  • Creating power, building dreams
  • The key players in the project.
  • Similar projects in the United States and Europe.
  • Question-and-answer session with David Oman.
  • The project timeline.

Dec. 4, 2000, announcement it will locate in Coralville

• Price: $280 million to build and open.

• Average ticket to enter: $7.75, adult.

• Site: 80 acres in the northeast corner of Interstates 80 and 380.

• Components: Five-acre enclosed rain forest rising at least 15 stories; public or "demonstration" school for 250 students in pre-kindergarten to fifth grade; teacher and administrator development center; 60,000-square-foot aquarium; mixed-media theater similar to IMAX.

Also included is a 600-room hotel as well as office and retail space.

• Details: Projected to employ 300 people; draw 1.5 million visitors annually - estimated that 1.1 million visitors need annually to make the project self-sufficient.

A tentative opening date is projected for 2005, with construction to begin in early summer 2001.

• Financing plan: $75 million in Vision Iowa program funds; Coralville committed to provide $30 million, infrastructure and $2 million in land; founder Ted Townsend pledged $10 million; at least $140 million needed in local funding; remainder from fund-raising.

Once opened, the project promised self-sufficiency, running on profits from ticket sales, gift shop sales and restaurant sales.

• Mission: "The Iowa Child is a statewide teacher/administrator development center whose purpose is to effect systematic change through the operation of a public demonstration school."

2004, with groundbreaking tentatively set for the fall

• Price: $180 million to build and open.

• Average ticket to enter: $15, adult.

• Site: 30 acres in the southeast corner of Interstate 80 and First Avenue.

• Components: 4.5-acre enclosed rain forest rising 18 stories; three galleries featuring prairie, geology and agriculture; 1.2 to 1.3 million-gallon aquarium; mixed-media theater similar to IMAX; restaurant/market; 10-acre re-created Iowa prairie and wetland feature. Project would locate near a city-planned hotel and conference center.

• Details: Projected to employ 400 people; draw 1.3 million to 1.5 million visitors annually. Estimated that about one million visitors needed annually to make the project self-sufficient.

• Financing plan: $50 million in federal money; $10 million from project founder Ted Townsend; $20 million in city-provided land and infrastructure; $10 million energy contract; remaining sources yet to be determined.

Once opened, project officials promise self-sufficiency, running on profits from ticket sales, gift shop sales and talk of various cooperative agreements or media contracts.

• Mission: "Creation of the world's largest ecologically-oriented learning environment - an iconic project celebrating mankind's link with the natural world." 

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Questions, answers with project's city administrator

Many questions remain unanswered about the $180 million Iowa Environmental Project proposed for Coralville. Here are some of the questions by reporters and readers, with the answers provided by feasibility studies, city officials and David Oman, the chief administrator of the indoor rain forest project:

  • Creating power, building dreams
  • The key players in the project.
  • Similar projects in the United States and Europe.
  • Details of the project then in 2000 and now in 2004.
  • The project timeline.
 Q: Will most of these jobs offer a "living wage," or would most of them come without benefits and with relatively low hourly wages? How many would be professional jobs? What is the breakdown and what is the payroll?

A: The projected payroll is $8.5 million supporting 290 positions. Per-job estimates put average wages in the low $30,000 range. Employment will run the gamut, from scientists, researchers and educators to janitorial and ticket-takers. A "very significant number" will be professional jobs.

Q: How much money will be spent to promote the rain forest project in the various targeted markets when it is complete? Has this been factored in to the projected costs?

A: While marketing is part of the eventual plan, organizers are focused on financing and have "serious questions to resolve on construction and content." Oman says marketing is not currently the priority. He said it is too early to know what the campaign will look like, how many will be on the team or what the budget will be.

Q: If the project fails to pay for itself, who is responsible? What if the project fails? What is the cost to taxpayers?

A: The project will be owned and operated by the not-for-profit Iowa Child Foundation. Coralville officials say that when the time comes, there will be a development agreement between the city and the Iowa Child Foundation. As far as financial assistance beyond the land and infrastructure, City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said, "Our discussion all along is that it is something we will not be involved in. We do not anticipate that we will be involved in the operation of the facility."

Q: The cities of Tampa, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., agreed to take over the debt service of their aquariums to keep aquarium officials from defaulting on bond payments. Can you guarantee that the facility, when up and running, will not ask the city of Coralville, Johnson County, the Iowa state government or the federal government for taxpayer money for operating expenses?

A: There is no expectation that the project will rely on public assistance. "The key is not to load it up with a lot of debt," Oman says. "All the projections we've seen indicate the project runs in the black. We'll take the excess and plow it back into the project to make it fresh."

Q: What kind of financial oversight of the project will there be?

A: "Solid, careful oversight in all ways - not just financial," Oman says. "We have to do that."

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Project timeline

 • Creating power, building dreams
  • The key players in the project.
  • Similar projects in the United States and Europe.
  • Details of the project then in 2000 and now in 2004.
  • Question-and-answer session with David Oman.

• February 1999: After Des Moines rejects the project, founder Ted Townsend pitches it to Cedar Rapids.

• February 2000: A state-funded study finds the project could work in Cedar Rapids. Townsend gets his first look at property northeast of Interstates 80 and 380 in Coralville.

• October 2000: Coralville city officials offer Townsend the land and up to $30 million, plus help with infrastructure.

• December 2000: The Iowa Child Institute board of directors unanimously votes to build the $280 million project in Coralville. The city pledges $30 million and another $2 million in real estate northeast of Interstates 80 and 380.

• February 2001: Iowa Child files a Notice of Intent to apply for $75 million in Vision Iowa funds.

• March 2001: Townsend says Iowa Child no longer will include a public school. Project cost is $293.5 million.

• April 2001: Iowa Child names David Oman as chief administrative officer. The former AT&T executive and one-time Republican gubernatorial candidate says organizers must review, retool and reshape the proposal.

• June 2001: The U.S. Department of Education awards Iowa Child a nearly $500,000 grant.

• July 2001: Officials promise to deliver Iowa Child for $250 million, or less.

• September 2001: Revised plan shows a $225 million project on 37 acres southeast of Interstate 80 and First Avenue, near the Iowa River.

Coralville withdraws its $30 million pledge. One day after unveiling, Sept. 11 terrorist attacks stall fund-raising.

• May 2002: Oman projects a spring 2007 opening.

• July 2002: Financial reports show Townsend bankrolling project. Oman's salary is $148,791 - he now earns $175,000.

• November 2003: Project resurfaces only to then have its bid for $70 million cut from the federal energy bill.

• December 2003: Federal spending bill passes with $50 million for the project.

• Fall 2004: Groundbreaking projected. Construction expected to take 2 1/2 to 3 years.

• 2005: Public allowed to begin visiting construction site.

• 2006: Complete plant acquisition.

• 2007: Complete exhibits and construction.

• 2008: Grand opening.

• 2013: Expansion.