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Coralville Rain Forest Project


November 10, 2005

[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.]

Promoters of building an indoor rain forest in Coralville met behind closed doors today, the same day an Iowa senator pushed for more restrictions on 50 million federal dollars committed to the project.

Rainforest executive director David Oman says he's not concerned about the new restrictions. He sees the deadline as a positive thing. Either raise $50 million by December of 2007, or lose the federal money.

If anything, he hopes it will get donors to step forward and the city of Coralville to finalize its commitment to the project. "What the senator has created is a very large challenge grant...the moneys still there...just going to be held in escrow."

The rain forest project is expected to cost $180 million. If the land donation from Coralville goes through and if the federal grant stays, that's worth $100 million.

Project organizers say they will work with the city to get $20 million from Vision Iowa. Oman says they also need $20 million from local donors. And $20 million from corporations.

Oman says a loan against the land would pay the rest of the bill.

One key is inking a deal with Coralville for the land. "The direction from the board is to see one more time if we can work out some of these issues with Coralville."

Oman says there are no plans to move the project out of Coralville, but that could change, if project organizers and the city can't make a deal.