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Riverside Residents Learn About Rainforest

KWWL-TV7, Waterloo, Iowa

June 12, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by KWWL-TV7, 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 KWWL-TV7.]

Any city wanting to become home to Earthpark must raise 25 million dollars and have at least 25 acres of land available.

The owners of the Riverside Casino are donating 100 acres for the project and have already committed a majority of the money.

"The Earthpark project itself will be on the southeast corner of the lake..." says Glenn Patton.

His dream is to see a sand-pit and farm ground near Riverside -- turned into a rainforest.

The Washington County community is competing with Pella, Grinnell, and Tiffin to become home to the 155-million dollar environmental project -- now tagged "Earthpark."

"It'll be in excess of two million people a year coming as tourists to Riverside. And we'll see all sorts of growth," says Patton.

The proposed location for the rainforest is right across the road from the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort...creating one huge national tourist attraction.

But, some people in this small community feel a little left out.

They want to know more about what developers have planned at the "River Products" sand pit.

That's why community leaders and Earthpark officials held two town hall meetings.

They explained why the indoor rainforest and aquarium would have a 130 million dollar a year economic impact on the area.

"Anything we can do to grow our economy in Iowa, get world exposure is a huge plus," says Jim Hanshaw, resident of Washington County.

Developers also revealed plans to build an amphitheater, shopping district, and an indoor-outdoor water park and hotel nearby.

Now, many are "convinced" Earthpark will choose Riverside as home.

"People will come by the busloads. Half the bus might go to the golf course or casino. Half might come to the environmental project," says Patton.

Earthpark officials hope to make their final decision on a location this month.